Human Flower Project

Infiorata: A Course in Miracles

Genzano, Italy, celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi with flowered carpets, all the way to the church door.

Do flowers honor miracles, or is it the other way around?

imageFloral carpet

Genzano, Italy

Photo: Infiorata

The Italians, who seem particularly well versed in such matters, answer ambiguously, with the spring tradition of infiorata, flower fairs.

This weekend, June 17-20, brings one of the most spectacular and renowned such events, in Genzano, 30 km. outside Rome. Its infiorata, as many others, takes place around the feast of Corpus Christi, the Catholic holy day marking the so-called “Eucharistic miracle”: when a 13th century pilgrim-priest broke the communion host and it bled. Pope Urban IV declared the holy day of Corpus Christi, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and the Sunday following became known on the church calendar as Corpus Domini.

If such supernatural events are hard to follow—or perhaps because they are—the Italians devised an alternative to persuasion: to send human attention in the right direction with a trail of flowers.  Since 1778, the people of Genzano have observed Corpus Domini by covering Via Sforza with gorgeous floral carpets, all the way to the Chiesa di S Maria della Cima. On Sunday, nobody should have trouble finding their way to church.

The city of Genzano offers lots of information and history, in both Italian and English, as well as photos. Helen Donegan has written this terrific essay about the infiorata custom all over Italy, with lots of links. And this Greek site, one of our new favorites, also has good background information, ending with a shrug. “There is no point in attempting to further describe it, the ‘Infiorata’ is a must to be seen!”

That’s a trail we hope to follow.


The View up Via Sforza, Genzano

Photo: Valentine

Weeks in advance, citizens begin gathering flowers and storing them in the town’s cool cellars. Then 13 teams, each lead by a local master, execute the brilliant designs, geometrical, fanciful, folksy, and of course Biblical. Conviction comes to us all differently, but I think this sight could do more to sway my thinking than bleeding bread.

So which came first, the flower or the miracle?

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