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.
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.
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.