Angels are said to have ploughed the fields of Saint Isadore, the patron saint of farmers, who could apparently work miracles when it came to the land, which explains why, on May 15, Catholic farmers around the world celebrate the Feast of Saint Isidore or Festa di Sant’ Isidore in Italian.
In Spain, and especially in Madrid, where the peasant farmer Isidoro was born in 1080 (his remains are in Madrid’s cathedral), the Fiesta de San Isidro is one of the main spring festivals and one of the most important events of the year, celebrated with 30 days of bullfighting, concerts, exhibitions and street parties. Teulada’s Festa di Sant’ Isidore is a much more modest affair but it’s still one that is full of colour and charm.
We’d only been in town an hour when we heard the first fire-crackers to announce the start of the procession, and Antonio, the owner of our home in Teulada, came to tell us that locals in traditional costume had gathered on the main square. As in Perpignan in March at the Procession de la Sanch, for the next couple of hours we found ourselves following the parade of villagers from one end of Teulada to the other and then back again.
Here in Teulada, the procession begins outside the Parish Church of the Madonna del Carmine where the priest and villagers, dressed in beautiful costumes, begin their march to the town’s entrance. There, they welcome handsomely dressed farmers on horseback and yoked oxen (the largest we’ve ever seen) with wreaths of field flowers around their necks, pulling a coach bearing the statue of Sant’ Isidore, which they then escort back to the church.
The villagers ask Sant’ Isidore to keep away hunger and famine during the coming year, to give them plenty of rain, a healthy crop, and a good harvest. They must be rejoicing now. Sant’ Isidore quickly granted their wishes. We arrived in Sardinia on a perfectly fine day but it was the last blue skies we’d see all week… well, that’s one way to explain the relentless rain in Teulada, rare at this time of year.
If you’re in Sardinia in May, the festival is also celebrated in Calangianus, Galtellì, Genoni, Mandas, Orosei, Orroli, Sedilo, Senorbì, and Sinnai. In some villages, there are folkloric shows, traditional singing and dancing, poetry competitions in the Sardinian language, and the farmers ride tractors decorated with flowers!