It is a space of perennial cultures and traditions rooted for centuries. Throughout the year, religious celebrations punctuate the life of the Basque Country. Through processions through the streets, punctuated by the polyphonic and sacred songs of the brotherhoods, each town and village perpetuates, through the celebration of their patron saints, these centuries-old traditions which constitute the backbone and forge the fervour of Corsican society.
From Saint-Joseph to Saint-Jean-Baptiste, passing by Saint-Antoine, the Black Christ of Miracles and Sainte-Marie, Bastia has erected itself at the height of Corsican spirituality by draining thousands of faithful into the footsteps of its brotherhoods of penitents at each celebration.
Guarantors of the rituals that are attached to them, these associations composed of lay people around the Church, have for decades revived celebrations and worship practices long buried under the dust of the past. By creating unique moments of devotion in the Mediterranean basin, they participate in the enhancement of services by bringing religion to life in all its intensity.
The highlight of this fervour, Settimana Santa (Holy Week), is marked by numerous celebrations, taking crowds of the faithful to visit the rest houses arranged in the Bastia oratories in cathedral silence.
In each village, the centuries-old rites of the Cerca, the Granitula and the Parata, emblematic processions of Good Friday, constitute powerful moments of religious and popular communion that make the Bastian Country a true land of beliefs.
Saint Joseph Day : this celebration is most important in Bastia as Saint Joseph is one of the town's patron saints. On 19 March every year, Bastia's inhabitants honour their patron saint by parading his statue through the town to Saint Marie's cathedral. Uniting Joseph with his wife the Virgin Mary is celebrated by eating traditional, delicious "panzarotti" (rice or chickpea flour doughnuts) and parading throughout the city.
On 3 May every year, the inhabitants of Bastia honour the Miraculous Black Christ. This crucifix, found at sea in 1428, is kept in the beautiful Sainte-Croix oratory in Bastia's Citadel. A procession, uniting fishermen, brotherhoods and believers walks to Bastia's old harbour, where the traditional "sea blessing" takes place.
Saint Anthony's Day : another of Bastia's patron saints is celebrated with great fanfare in the 16th century convent; church services, processions and street parties make up the better part of the day.
Celebrations start on 23 June in the evening with the traditional "fugare" (St John's bonfire), a huge fire lit in the Old Harbour at the foot of the Citadel's fortifications. The next day, the religious ceremony takes over from the secular celebrations in the large Corsican church, where processions and services are organised until the evening.
15 August : Bastia is proud of the processional, imposing and beautiful solid silver statue of the Virgin Mary it holds in its cathedral. This statue - weighing close to half a tonne - is paraded through the streets of the old town during the annual procession.
On 16 August every year, in the small Saint Roch oratory located rue Napoléon - just after mass - blessings are given and small bread rolls are given out. These holy bread rolls are traditionally preserved to protect people against epidemics and lightning.