There are many reasons which led me to think about this event. The basic task of a local government is to identify the guidelines that lead to the sustainable development and the welfare of the community. Santomenna provides plenty of ideas of that kind: from history to tradition and culture; from cuisine to the landscape, architectural and artistic beauties, as also the other villages in the Apennines after all. But it its peculiar relation between political and religious dynamics to make this town unique, a fil rouge in the history of Santomenna which laid the foundations of an important center of political and religious interest in the past, and nowadays of historical and artistic relevance. It was a crucial point for the church hierarchy (which benefited from the temporal power as well in Santomenna), which has led to the definition of Santomenna as "the city of Bishops", given the ideal conditions for the prolific presence of places of worship, beautiful craftsmanship, today gathered in a collection of liturgical art at the local "Museum of the Sacred". This is the same condition which made possible the miracle of St. Gerard Majella when the young monk passed through the country to visit his uncle in the convent.

Santomenna is in fact situated in a vast area in which the religious dynamics still have a great force, being the whole area of ​​the Valle del Sele frequented by many faithful and pilgrims, so that many experts dare say that Santomenna has become a focus of interest for the so-called "Religious Tourism", due to the presence of numerous sites of religious interest: the Shrine of St. Gerard in Materdomini - Caposele; the Village of Queen in Oliveto Citra; the Shrine of Our Lady of Sperlonga in Palomonte; The tomb of the Blessed Mariano Arciero in Contursi Terme. In short, a tourist district tending toward an audience of especially adult visitors, given that the flow of visitors is also due to the so-called "health tourism", for the presence of thermal springs in Contursi Terme and the enormous accommodating capability, in the Alpine chalets also present in Santomenna, thanks to which those fleeing from the bustle of the city can appreciate a good quality of life, which we like to call "the good life"!

At this point it was important for me to identify a common thread that would capture the interest of potential visitors and at the same time bind the youth with love for their land, its history and culture.

How to do that, then, in an age that seems to avoid culture? The answer came to me with the idea of ​​the commemoration of the miracle performed by St. Gerard Majella in Santomenna whose first edition was held in 2014. The advantageous chance to benefit from the European funding, exclusively dedicated to the events, and the partnership with the City of Contursi Terme, have given the decisive opportunity to broaden the resonance of the event to a wider audience of visitors.

A touring show, a traveling theater, therefore, has been prepared - a show within the show in the old town - to discover the places actually known by the saint: from the blacksmith's shop to the streets of the old town, where you can still admire prestigious portals and historic buildings, fascinating sights that recount an important past.

In fact, this evocation serves as an instrument of territorial marketing which underlies the enhancement of the history, customs and habits, and especially the sites of architectural and artistic interest of the old town, as a tourist attraction and as a cultural heritage, but also as a place of "good living" (without wasting more land!), even today when the "size" of the city centers appears as limiting to the most distracted, and when the supply of housing in the old town is both cause for opportunities for low demand, and at the same time an embarrassment for the sparse intervention of man. Moreover, it seemed to me quite attractive the possibility to create, for the staging of the show, a theater workshop led by professionals – that was free and universally accessible to all citizens - as a means of entertainment that could fascinate at the same time teenagers, the young and the old in the noble art of the theater, in the knowledge of the history of their own country, and be the occasion for bringing people together, a valid alternative to the means offered by the mass consumerism! In short, an opportunity to emphasize that culture can be a fun way of aggregation, as well as provide stimuli to revive the economy through actions useful to the sustainable tourism.

Not least there is an ethical motivation. Gerard Majella is a saint beloved by Catholics, worshiped in many countries of the world, but also appreciated by those who are not believers, because his life is a hymn to the good feelings, is an example to be emulated for his sense of humanity, made of love for others, generosity, understanding, humility, sobriety. It is therefore in contrast with the examples of pride, arrogance, greed, ruthlessness, intolerance towards those who suffer or are different, which also find their way into various models represented in society. In brief, Gerard Majella is also a champion of good values, who is helpful to "show as a model" to the new generations.

Of special importance, then, is the fact that Franco Arminio, poet, writer and "paesologo" is the author of the unpublished and original theatre representation and the poems dedicated to the saint.

Santomenna, autumn 2015

bch dr. Massimilinao Voza
Mayor of Santomenna for five-years from 2012 to 2017