The rite of "double death"

In the heart of Carnia, there is a little and well-known and frequented sanctuary, in which a story is developed that is not legendary but well attested and documented, in which life and death meet in labilite boundaries.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Trava
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Trava (Photo-municipality of Lauco)

In the sanctuary of Our Lady of Trava, in times of misery and poverty, mothers who gave birth to dead children came from all over Friuli, and also from outside the region, in order to baptize them, so that they could be buried in consecrated land and reach paradise.

The rite, which involved the presence of many pious women, consisted of placing the lifeless little one on a stone altar that stood near the church, or at the edge of a forest. There, with the presence of a priest, and with a very particular ritual, the newborn resumed life, for a few moments, according to tradition. Following these (labili) signs of life, baptism was celebrated, which invariably led to the definitive death of the newborn, who was then buried near the church.

If the appearance of "resurrecting" is naturally unfounded (although it gave the relief sought by mothers in tears), it is not tradition, which brought thousands of desperate women to Trava, so much so that in the mid-seventeenth century it was very frequented and attracted the attention of the inquisitor of Udine. To the importance attached to the rite of baptism for the salvation of the soul, was also added the deep-rooted fear that children who died without the sacrament, (therefore destined for eternal damnation) could continue to persecute the world of the living, full of hatred towards him.

Even in our day in the popular tradition of European areas where the belief of shrines "à repéit" was widespread, one can trace such a reverential fear handed down for generations.

Interior with exvote (carniafanpage)

Of the rites practiced there are numerous testimonies: In addition to the archaeological investigations with the discovery of many small remains, there are numerous notarial acts related to the recognition of the baptism, ex voto still preserved (unfortunately many have been stolen), investigation documents and memorials drawn up by the local Inquisition. Despite the complaints and trials, the activity in Trava will continue even after the condemnation of the rites of Pope Benedict XIV (1755) and until the 19th century.


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