Every year Lucca on 12th July Lucca celebrates one of its Saints, San Paolino of Antioch. The question is, who is this saint and why is the Patron Saint of Lucca? The legend says that San Paolino was a disciple of Saint Peter and sent to Lucca to convert the population with a deacon, a soldier and priest and supposedly become the city’s first bishop. His companions names have been lost in time and nor is there any real evidence of San Paolino himself, but in 1197 relics were found in the church of Saint George, with a stone declaring them to be the relics of Paolino a holy martyr killed in 67 during the reign of Nero.
San Paolino’s sainthood however was bestowed on him due an incident in 1622 when a cannon being fired in his honour misfire and injured some pilgrims but because of his divine intervention there where no serious injuries.
San Paolino is a very important date in the cities calendar and celebrations include all the important traditions from the city spanning several periods, dancing, flag throwing and most perhaps most famous the crossbow competition.
Both locals and tourists enjoy these delights. At the mass in the church of San Paolino, in his district of the city offering are made. The feast not only serves to honour the saint but is also a way to pass the old traditions through the generations. One of the best parts for me is seeing kids as young as 6 throwing flags and cross generations parading and beating drums together just as it has always been done.