Feast of the Madonna delle Nevi at the Sanctuary of Miserin
5 August is the feast day of the “Champorchereins”: at three in the morning, the “great” bell of the parish church of San Nicola rings out, and in their homes the pilgrims awaken and finish off the preparations for their journey. An hour later, at four o’clock, the faithful – a little chilly and sleepy – meet up in the square in front of the church, with their torches lit; again to the sound of the great bell, which marks all the salient moments in the life of the local community, they head towards Miserin, preceded by the “cross” and the little bell, which is rung throughout the procession. By 8.30 a.m., everyone is in the chapel for the Mass, perhaps the most moving moment of the day.
Pilgrims from the neighbouring valleys also converge on the Sanctuary, which welcomes the faithful from Cogne, the Val Soana and Fénis. The Mass on Miserin day is followed – as always, even during the periods of greatest hardship – by a communal lunch, during which the finest local foods, such as cured meats, cheeses, sweets, meat and liqueurs – specially packed for the occasion – are traditionally offered to friends and acquaintances.
Before the return home in the afternoon, the feast comes to a close with a sale of objects and products put up for auction by the faithful, the proceeds of which go to the parish for the running and maintenance of the chapel: this is when true works of art can be found.
The procession returns to the church towards 6.30 p.m., and along the last stretch is joined by those people who were unable to make their way up to the Sanctuary because of their age or health.