Palio in Siena: Blessing the Horses

Previously: The "Prove"

Early in the afternoon on the day of the Palio, spectators begin to take place in the centre of the Campo for the evening race. Shade is still rare on the Piazza at this time of day, and long hours of wait in the scorching sun lie before them.

Meanwhile, for those contrade that will participate in the race, it is time for an important ritual: the blessing of the horse. The ceremony takes place simultaneously in the oratories of the various contrade.

siena-palio-0908-3092.jpg
siena-palio-0908-3113.jpg

Each horse, escorted by members of the "comparsa" (the contrada's parade unit), is taken to the contrada's church. There, in the small oratory packed with tense and anxious contradaioli, the animal is blessed by the contrada's priest in the course of a brief but intense ceremony.

siena-palio-0908-3143.jpg

Addressing the horse, the priest concludes his blessing with the traditional formula: "Vai e torna vincitore !" ("Go and return victorious !").

siena-palio-0908-3135.jpg

After this divine invocation, all minds are now free to turn to the final preparations in view of the historical pageant preceding the race.

ContinuedThe "Corteo Storico"