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Bolsena is a corner of Italy steeped in historic and cultural tradition. Among them, the most famous and spectacular is the staging of the Mysteries of Cristina, the child saint who was martyred during the last persecution by Diocletian in 305. When Cristina chose the road to martyrdom, she was just twelve years old. Beautiful and of noble origin, she was the most sought-after girl in Bolsena.
However, the youths of Bolsena waited in vain for her because she had secretly promised herself to God. She was betrayed by her favourite maidservant, who told her father about her conversion.
An irreparable rift was suddenly created between father and daughter, and when Urban, full of paternal love and suffocated by pain, begged Cristina to contradict the words that accused her, she confirmed every single word. She was locked up in a rugged and high tower on the Isle of Martana, which her father willed she would only be able to leave if she renounced Christ. And this is where the marvels and mysteries of the legend start...
Every year on the evening of 23 July and on the morning of the following day, the heroic deeds of the martyr from Bolsena who died at the tender age of 12 are relived in the imagination of her fellow-citizens through a very ancient staging, a true “...living relic of the sacred drama...” popularly known as “Mysteries”.
The “Mysteries” re-enact, through some ten living portrayals on temporary stages in the historic town centre, the sufferings young Cristina was subjected to: she survived them all until the Lord allowed her to be killed by the arrows of her torturers.
The living portrayals are traditionally enacted by citizens of Bolsena dressed in Roman costumes.