Hallowed Olive Oil Helps Neighbors in Need

A community in Italy comes together to celebrate olive trees and raise funds for charity.

The Parish of Bosto
Feb. 14, 2020
By Paolo DeAndreis
The Parish of Bosto

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Every year in Varese, in Northern Italy, a tra­di­tional reli­gious event cel­e­brates olive oil and ded­i­cates the cel­e­bra­tions to Sant’Imerio, for whom the local church is named.

In a num­ber of olive groves cul­ti­vated by parish­ioners and in those shared by donors for the event, vol­un­teers har­vested the olives that were then used to pro­duce the Sant’Imerio oil, or the sacred lake­side oil” as locals refer to it.

Once a year we cel­e­brate our his­tor­i­cal bond with the groves among us within the com­mu­nity.- Don Enrico, Parish of Bosto

The mem­bers of an asso­ci­a­tion named after the Saint col­lected the olives and brought them in the parish house in Bosto, a vil­lage which is part of the greater Varese area, in the Lombardia region, where the annual fair takes place each February.

To us, olive trees rep­re­sent hope and resiliency. Once a year we cel­e­brate our his­tor­i­cal bond with the groves and among us within the com­mu­nity. Those who take part in the Sant’Imerio oil ini­tia­tives bring joy to all of us and strengthen the activ­i­ties directed to the have-nots,” don Enrico, one of the priests and local author­i­ties involved in the activ­i­ties, explained to Olive Oil Times.

There is grow­ing atten­tion for the event by the res­i­dents in the Varese area. The groves ded­i­cated to the sacred oil for the cur­rent har­vest­ing sea­son were hit by the out­break of the olive fruit fly cou­pled with unhelp­ful weather.

That is why last October locals who had olives to share came in and donated their fruits for the event. People of dif­fer­ent ages, eth­nic­i­ties and cul­tures par­tic­i­pated, bring­ing olives with cars, bicy­cles and what­ever means they had. There, in Bosto, with the help of the Lenno Oil Mill, olives became oil.

The two-day fair fol­lowed a tight sched­ule of activ­i­ties, shared meals and games, but the event all waited for took place on Sunday morn­ing.

People from the com­mu­nity, together with sev­eral asso­ci­a­tions reunited for the event, take part in the tra­di­tional pro­ces­sion from the small ancient Sant’Imerio church to the parish main church.

Chiesa di Sant’Imerio

At the end of it, the tra­di­tional bal­loon was lit, a fas­ci­nat­ing reminder of the mar­tyr­dom of Sant’Imerio. Then, with the com­mu­nity gath­ered out­side and inside the build­ing, the Sant’Imerio oil was blessed by the high­est local reli­gious author­i­ties and a spe­cial mass took place.

Several hun­dred bot­tles of the Sant’Imerio sacred reserve were sold in a mat­ter of hours. Many hope to get at least some of the bot­tles because of the con­nec­tion we all feel dur­ing the event. On top of that, it ben­e­fits those who are in need,” don Enrico said.

The prof­its of the sale are com­pletely ded­i­cated to the ini­tia­tives that the local reli­gious com­mu­nity puts in place to relieve the con­di­tion of local chil­dren whose fam­i­lies are in need and hold a spe­cial place in the heart of the blessed-oil com­mu­nity.


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