San Raffaele in Materdei, fertility Neapolitan tradition

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Chiesa di San Raffaele a Materdei

Va ‘Vasa’ ‘o pesc ‘e San Rafele (literally “go to kiss the fish from San Raffaele”). This was the phrase that, until a few decades ago, parents, relatives and friends turned to the pretty girls looking for husbands or with desire of pregnancy. A kiss to the fish that the statue of St. Raphael, housed in the church of the district of the same name Matederi in Naples, bears in his hand. Well, in this ritual, until a few decades ago, they were engaged “spinsters” and aspiring women giving birth in the city of Partenope, especially on October 24, a date that once the liturgy was to coincide with the feast of the Santo (now San Raffaele is celebrated on September 29). The image of the Holy Archangel, according to the traditional iconography (which has its origins in the biblical Book of Tobit) has always been depicted with some fish in hand.

A popular practice that combines the sacred and the profane, the stirring element of marine fish and then the ancient symbolism of the proto with an almost explicit sexual reference, even though, in a benevolent use even if exaggerated. The feast day in the church of Materdei, the statue of St. Raphael is exposed to make sure that not only women looking for husbands, but also those seeking fertility can kiss the fish asking the intercession of the patron. Of course, now the custom has gone a bit ‘dwindling. But, dear lord in waiting for the big love, or who wish to become mothers, why not mark in your diary the date of October 24? Then it’s up to you to decide whether or not to believe in folk customs. San Raffaele is there waiting for you.