Rome (NEV), February 20, 2021 – For those who never participated in one Freedom Day’s bonfire, this was the right opportunity to comfortably follow it from home. The Freedom Day is the anniversary that celebrates the granting of civil rights to the Waldensians, which came with the Patent Letters of February 17, 1848 signed by King Carlo Alberto. That day represents the first step towards religious freedom. On March 29 of the same year, the emancipation provision was extended to the Jews. Patent Letters put an end to centuries of discrimination. Outside the “alpine ghetto” of the valleys, the Waldensians could not even own properties. The bonfires recall the message of the achieved freedom that bounced from village to village 173 years ago.
In a completely extraordinary way, the lighting of the bonfire in Pomaretto (Turin) on February 16, 2021 was broadcast in live streaming. The circular letter of the mayor of Pomaretto Danilo Breusa read: “Only a certain number of people will be authorized to be present for the management and supervision of the bonfire”. The lighting therefore took place without an audience. “In order to take the necessary precautions to exclude any risk of contagion, in the current regulations in force – wrote the mayor -, the traditional event linked to the bonfire on February 16 will not possibly take place as it is customary….”.
Traditionally, bonfires are lit in all the Waldensian valleys and also in some other Italian locations. The fires usually begin to appear from the plain like burning candles in the dark. As one goes up the roads leading to the mountains, they become sharper and more numerous, like small constellations in the night. That of Pomaretto is known to be one of the highest of the valleys, reaching over 12 meters in height. Basically, like a house of about four floors.
This year as usual, numerous initiatives were planned on the occasion of this important anniversary in the Waldensian history. We particularly highlight the meeting sponsored by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) scheduled for February 17 from 5 to 6:30 pm (on zoom). Title: “Citizenship, freedom and care at the time of Covid”.