The Luminara (or Luminaria) di San Ranieri is a candlelight festival and is the most magical event in Tuscany. It takes place every year, on June the 16th!
Who is San Ranieri?
San Ranieri is the patron saint of the Tuscan city of Pisa and the protector of all travellers (Saint Rainerius). He was born on 1118 in Pisa from a wealthy family, when the Duomo had just been built. He had a religious education and learnt the art of playing instruments.
When he was young Ranieri grew up in a Christian Catholic atmosphere, but during his adolescence he forgot about the principles that had accompanied him… until the day in which he met a friar (Alberto di Corsica) who turned him into a man of faith.
This acquaintance brought Ranieri on the right path and he decided to follow his spiritual guide. He confessed all his sins and cried so many tears that he became blind, but after a prodigy, he began to see again.
Furthermore, one beautiful day he had a vision: an eagle carrying a light told him to “show the light to those people who (like him) where in darkness”. For this reason, he decided to start his journey to Jerusalem, where he lived for 13 long years in poverty, making lots of miracles happen, such as multiplying bread in order to feed the poor people.
He came back to Pisa, where he helped a lot of people with miracles and good actions. When he died, seven years later, he was only 43 and all of Pisa’s bells began to ring at the same time. His tomb was inside the cathedral and in 1632 he became the patron saint of the city of the Leaning Tower.
What is the Luminaria?
The famous Luminaria is dedicated to San Ranieri since 1688, when the grand duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de’ Medici, decided to put his body into a precious, marble tomb. At sunset, every June 16, thousands of candles previously put onto Pisa’s bridges, doors and windows are lit up.
The result is absolutely breathtaking: the river Arno mirrors all these lights and the atmosphere is warm and mystical. At 11 p.m. fireworks colour the sky and surprise the hundreds of thousands of people from Pisa and all over the world walking and standing throughout the Lungarni. What a Tuscan dream!