Second Saturday in July

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Madonna della Pace, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy

In 1955 the town of Ascoli Piceno revived its Quintana, an annual jousting pageant going back to at least the 1300s in honor of its patron, St. Emygdius. The costumed reenactment on the first Sunday of August grew into a major event and tourist attraction. In 1997, the town started holding a night Quintana on the second Saturday in July in honor of the Madonna of Peace. The evening before, people gather in the piazza outside St. Augustine's Church, where the painting of the Madonna resides, for the "Saluto alla Madonna della Pace." The church's pastor blesses the six cavalieri to joust the next night, and their order of competition is determined by lot. Saturday's competition, with some 1,500 costumed participants, takes place in the larger Campo Squarcia. The cavalieri do not tilt at each other, but at a target held by a dummy (quintana) dressed as a Saracen.   

The painting of the Virgin so honored is a Madonna of Humility, probably by Francescuccio Ghissi (active from 1359-95). Mary is seated on a low cushion, nursing Jesus, with two kneeling angels nearby. The name "Madonna della Pace" arose after one of the many skirmishes between rival factions that wracked Ascoli Piceno from 1300 to 1500. Fighting on a stormy night, the antagonists lay down their arms at the mysterious sound of a bell ringing in Piazza Sant'Agostino. The peace must have lasted long enough to enhance the reputation of the humble Madonna in the church, to whom Catholics of Ascoli Piceno have turned throughout the centuries: during the earthquakes of 1703, the cholera of 1855, and the bombardments of 1944. 

Ven. Francesco Antonio Marcucci (d. 1798), bishop, educator, preacher, and founder of the Pious Workers Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, spent many hours in prayer before the Madonna of Peace.

Sources include:

"QUINTANA 2014 AD ASCOLI PICENO," Marche Tourism Network,
Ascoli Piceno cittą della Giostra della Quintana,
"Eventi: Saluto Madonna Pace," La Quintana di Ascoli Piceno,
"Venerabile Francesco Antonio Marcucci," Itinerari marcuccian,i (picture)

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly