The feast of religious origin takes place every year in the middle of summer, in two days on 7th August and celebrates Donato d’Arezzo, the second bishop of the city, venerated as a martyr saint by the Catholic Church. He was consecrated bishop by the Pope in 300 AD and is remembered for numerous miracles, healings and conversions. The most famous among the miracles recognized to the Saint is that of the chalice, which caused his martyrdom and death. It is said that during the celebration of mass some pagans broke into the church and violently smashed the glass chalice. Donato picked up the pieces, put them back together, but a small piece was missing. Not caring about that, he poured the wine and offered it to the faithful without any drop falling. Out of astonishment, the 79 pagans converted to Christianity. But this was unacceptable for the Emperor Julian and after about a month, in 363 AD Donatus was arrested and killed by decapitation by the prefect of Arezzo Quadraziano.
Today the body of the Saint is preserved and venerated inside the Cathedral of Arezzo, in the ark of San Donato, a masterpiece of fourteenth-century sculpture, while the head is kept in a reliquary bust in the crypt of the Pieve of Arezzo. The reliquary bust was made in 1346 by the two local goldsmiths Pietro Vanni and Paolo Ghiselli, almost life-size (51 x 46 x 23 cm) and represents one of the masterpieces of Arezzo goldsmithing. The work, composed of several main separable parts, is made of rich and showy materials: gilded silver, translucent and opaque enamels, natural stones and colored glass. For many centuries it has been venerated by the faithful and carried in procession through the streets of the city, representing the central point of the celebrations.
Arezzo Patron Saint Celebrations Program
The celebrations begin on the evening of August 6 and culminate with the traditional fireworks display that lights up the night.
Gold and red will be the main colors of the show, the first dedicated to the oldest tradition of the city and the second in honor of the patron saint. At the end of the show, a sequence of fireworks will be performed with the colors dedicated to the Giostra del Saracino and, at the end, with the colors of the winning district.
On the evening of August 6 “I colori della Giostra” museum from 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm will be open. It will also be possible to live a unique experience with a night walk on the hill of Arezzo:
- Night hike to San Fabiano – San Donato fireworks
- The Cross of Lignano and the fireworks of St. Donato
On the day of San Donato, August 7th, liturgical celebrations take place for the whole day, involving the Cathedral , the ancient church of San Donato in Fortezza Medicea and the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve.