ISBN: 978-2-87457-100-8
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De la déesse equa-marsa Angitia au culte de Saint Dominique de Coculle

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Actes du Colloque « Le rôle des femmes dans les religions de l’antiquité méditerranéenne »
27 mai 2017 – Centre d’Histoire des Religions Cardinal Julien Ries, Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve)

by Stefania DI CARLO, in Res Antiquae 15, 2018.

The cult of Saint Dominic Abbot of Cocullo dates back to the year one thousand. It has spread to four Italian regions over the centuries. Ancient sources describe this saint as the flogger of the  religious simoniacs  who were disrespectful of the Church since cohabiting with concubines. Only late ancient  hagiographies on the Saint link him to snakes. The procession, which every year takes place on the first Thursday of May in Cocullo, a village not far from Sulmona (province of L’Aquila, Abruzzi region), is folkloric: snakes, captured in the area, are wound around the statue of the saint which is also adorned with small loaves; the snakes, deprived of poison, are wrapped on  the bodies of the residents and tourists who handle them without fear. This Catholic cult was born, according to the anthropologist Alfonso DI Nola, on the subaltern cult of the goddess Angitia (daughter of Eta, king of Colchis, and sister of Circe and Medea), beloved by the Marsi, and whose  archaeological traces  were found in Luco dei Marsi. This derivation is, however, questioned  by the anthropologist Giuseppe Profeta who finds evidence of the cult in Cocullo only between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries even if a previous cult of Saint Dominic and the serpari (the local people engaged in capturing snakes) is attested in the village of Villalago. Archeology seems to show that the cult of Saint Dominic  is the duplication of Angitia’s cult which in turn is the duplication of that of Demeter and Kore.

Keywords: Ancient worship, Holy (aggettivo), Saint (sostantivo), Anthropology, Hagiography, Archeology, Snake charmers
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