A very picturesque and even exotic ritual procession of Saint Dominique with serpents takes place every first Thursday of May in the town of Cocullo (Abruzzo). The tiny borough with only 285 permanent residents hosts thousands of pilgrims. This ancient ritual combines elements of pagan and Christian devotions.

St. Dominique of Sora (951-1031) was a Benedictine monk who had founded several convents in Abruzzo. One of his hermitages can be still found on the bank of a small lake which had been named after him. I’ve written about St. Dominique in the post ”The Hermitage of San Domenico”. He was also famous for miraculous abilities, particularly curing from bites of snakes, dogs and wolves.

The St. Dominique’s festival begins with a solemn mess in the town Cathedral. The culmination of the whole ceremony is the appearance of the statue of St. Dominique covered with coiling serpents.

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