History & Cutlure
It has very ancient origins, which are presumed to date back to the era of Magna Graecia. Historically it has probably been identified with the ancient locality of Amphisya, mentioned in the poems of the Roman poet Ovid. In Contrada Focà a block-limestone building and the terracotta artefacts belonging to a presumed monumental tomb of the IV century A.C.
In the tenth century the village was called, Rupella, then Arocella, up to the current name of "Roccella" because of its location on the fortress.
The first document that bears witness to the existence of Roccella Jonica dates back to 1270: it records the sale of the Donato Castle to Gualtieri de Collepietro by Carlo I d'Angiò.
It was an important feud and defensive stronghold of the coast, as also symbolized in the heraldic banner, which represents the patron Saint Victor Martyr in Marseille who defeats a Turkish pirate.
Traditions and folklore
Feast of Maria S.S. of the Graces
Every year the first Sunday of July is held the party in honor of Maria S.S. delle Grazie, patroness of the sailors of the village.
On the Wednesday before the party the statue of the Madonna is carried in procession from the Shrine of Graces to the Mother Church; Sunday afternoons are taken on a flagship boat at the head of a procession of ships for the procession at sea, followed by the one through the city streets, the Monday after the party the statue is taken from the Mother Church to the Shrine of Grace.
Every year, starting from the evening of August 14th to end at dawn the next day, Roccella Jonica is animated by various entertainments, shows, festivals and concerts.
Feast of Saint Victor the Martyr in Marseille
Saint Victor the Martyr in Marseilles (... - Marseille, 21 May 303 or 304) was an officer of the Theban legion and is revered by the Catholic Church as a saint and martyr. According to Amedeo Thierry, historian of the nineteenth century, Victor, officer of the Imperial Guard, would arrive in Marseilles on the occasion of a visit to the city by the Emperor Maximian. In February 303, in an already well-evangelized Roman Empire, where the Christian faith had penetrated different sections of the population, a sudden, brutal and systematic persecution broke out, which caused thousands of victims throughout the empire. Vittore had escaped the decimation of the Theban Legion, which was massacred under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian (285-305) to Agaune (now Saint-Maurice, in Valais in Switzerland), according to Saint Eucherio. Vittore was one of those who suffered martyrdom in Marseilles for refusing to abjure the Christian faith. On July 8, 303 (or 304 according to some sources), an officer of the Theban Legion named Victor was brought before the court of Marseilles where he resided the prefect of the praetor Euticio. This officer refused to receive his pay and proclaimed himself a Christian. Having refused to make sacrifices to the gods, as the judge asked him, Victor was dragged through the city with his arms tied behind his back. Reported before the judge, Vittore refused again to sacrifice: "I will not sacrifice: this [the sacrifice, n.d.r.] is due to God the Creator, not to a creature". Hearing this Asterio gave him a slap and the soldiers took him to blows. After that, Asterio ordered to roar him from the ranks and to martyr him with leather corrugations, so he was locked up in a dungeon. On 21 July Vittore was again translated before the prefect of Euticio, in front of whom he repeatedly refused to make sacrifices to the gods. The judge placed before him the altar where he would have to make the sacrifices but Vittore could not bear his sight. With a kick Victor made the altar fall from the hands of the priest and the judge, angered, ordered that the foot with which Victor had dropped the altar was amputated. Then, faced with a further refusal by Vittore to sacrifice to the gods, he ordered to place it under a millstone carried by an animal, where grain is normally milled. The Christians of Marseilles seized the body of Victor and hid him hurriedly in the side of a hill of which they dug the rock. Its festive anniversary is celebrated on May 21st.
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
It takes place every year on the third Sunday of September and concludes the summer of Roccellese.
"Ncrinata 'I Pasca" or "Inchinata di Pasqua"
The meeting between the Risen Jesus and the Madonna, mediated by St. John. The sacred representation takes place on Easter morning, in the Croce district. St. John, located in Via Giordano Bruno, three times, goes to the Madonna, covered by a black cloak, to communicate the news of the resurrection of Christ. The two statues, that of the Madonna and that of Christ, are located about 300 meters apart, in a position that can not be seen. The last journey of St. John is made of running and halfway through the statue stops, putting aside, to allow the Christ and the Madonna to meet. The race of these two statues is accompanied by the band. After a few steps, the Madonna is freed from her black coat.
Dance of the "Ciuccio" (donkey)
Feast in honor of St. Joseph which is celebrated every year on the first Sunday of August.