The Corsa degli Scalzi of Cabras

The small village around the church of San Salvatore on the peninsula of Sinis breaths a quiet atmosphere all year round. Just a few tourists visit the famous hypogeum that lies under the church but in the village itself there is not much to do. The houses are uninhabited, these are the so-called cumbessias, or as the people of Cabras like to call them, domigheddas (small houses). Only once a year, for nine days, in this small hamlet one of the most spectacular events of Sardinia is revived, the Corsa degli Scalzi.

San Salvatore

Event: The Corsa degli Scalzi

Where? San Salvatore
When? The first saturday and sunday of september
Info: Corsa degli Scalzi

The first saturday and sunday of september, the last of the nine days, the holy Saviour (San Salvatore, the saviour and healer) is the center of a centuries old tradition. On saturday hundreds of men, clothed in impeccable white dress, come running from Cabras with in their midst the statue of the saint. They all run barefoot and that is why the event is called the Corsa degli Scalzi (literally without shoes, barefooted). That saturday at San Salvatore a feast is held and many people have come from Cabras and from the rest of Sardinia because they want to participate in the event as runner or as spectator. The next day the hundreds of white clad men take the statue of holy Saviour on their shoulders again and run back through the countryside to the church in Cabras where it is handed back to the vicar.

The tradition

The origin of this tradition is not really known. It is said that the run represents the escape from the Saracens when their incursions on the island were still frequent. During one such raid in 1506 the men took up the statue of the Saint and fled through the countryside to Cabras to safeguard it from ransacking Arabs. But really during the Spanish rule of Sardinia many religious events and traditions were revived and stimulated, and that is why many of these traditions have a history of about 500 years.

The event

The Corsa degli Scalzi has become a popular tradition, there are many that want to participate, is Curridoris (the runners), and that has lead to a more tight organization to manage the event. The participants are divided in fourteen groups with each about thirteen teams of three men (two to carry the saint and one to carry the standard). During the run the teams alternate and it is considered by everybody an honour to be able to carry the statue or the banner, especially at the start or at the end. The organization determines which teams will carry the burden during the entire route. All participants receive a carnation on saturday at San Salvatore which they donate to their loved ones. During the run the statue of the saint is covered to protect it from the dust of the road. In fact is Curridoris arrive with their white clothes full of dust and sweat, tired but satisfied because for them just one thing counts, having participated. And if they were not part of one of the teams that carried the saint this year then there will always be the next year.

Bibliography

Mancosu, G. 2007: San Salvatore del Sinis Un villaggio, la sua festa, le sue magie, Ghilarza

Last updated 01/03/2016

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