The Ancuntru (The encounter) is an ancient Easter ritual held every year in the town of Pietraperzia, in the province of Enna, which celebrates the moment of the meeting of the Madonna with her Risen son.

The celebration is organized by the “Confraternità del Preziosissimo Sangue di Cristo”, which has origins dating back to the 17th century. Despite its formal suppression following the issue, in the second half of the nineteenth century, of a Bourbon decree which prescribed the closure of all secular institutions deemed superfluous by the State, the brotherhood remained alive and still today its members deal with the organization of the festivities and the maintenance and restoration of the ancient simulacra protagonists of the celebration.

The statue of the Risen Christ, a polychrome simulacrum in wood dating back to 1774, is kept in the church of Santa Maria di Gesù, which is also the seat of the confraternity.

The Easter celebrations are preceded, on Holy Saturday, by a procession of the simulacrum of the Madonna dell’Ancuntru, which is carried on the shoulders by the sisters “Maria Santissima Addolorata”, dressed in black.

On Easter days, every year, the procession begins in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in the center of the town, overlooked by the church of Santa Maria di Gesù. The statue of the Madonna, coming from the opposite direction, is wrapped in a black cloak as a sign of mourning and is carried on the shoulders of the members of the confraternity, dressed for the occasion in white tunics, a red cape and a white hood that completely covers the face; in front of the church of Santa Maria there is the statue of the Risen Christ. Both processions move to meet each other. The statue of the Madonna is led in a run towards that of the Risen Christ, and in her run she loses her black cloak, to celebrate the resurrection of her son. The statue symbolically runs to meet Christ three times, until, at the moment of meeting, the two simulacrums position themselves side by side, in the center of the square and after a brief pause they walk together towards the Church. Inside the church the faithful sing a traditional song in dialect: “Sarbirigina di l’ancuntru“. Finally, the feast ends with the blessing of the Madonna to the whole community.

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Marotta F., la Settimana Santa e la Pasqua a Pietraperzia, tipografia Di Prima marzo, Pietraperzia (EN), 1989
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REIS - Libro delle Celebrazioni, delle Feste e delle Pratiche Rituali - l'Ancuntru