The Luminara of San Ranieri (which is Pisa vernacular for ‘luminaria’) is a town festival that takes place each year in Pisa on the evening of June 16th, the eve of San Ranieri, patron saint of the city.
March 25th, 1688, in the chapel of the Cathedral of Pisa, entitled to The crowned, was solemnly placed the urn containing the body of Scaccieri Ranieri, patron of the city, who died in holiness in 1161. Cosimo III de ‘Medici, infact, wanted the ancient urn containing the relic to be replaced with a more modern and sumptuous one. The translation of the urn became the occasion for a memorable celebration, which, according to the tradition, started a three-year lighting of Pisa, first simply called “lighting” and, in the nineteenth century, Luminara.
The idea of celebrating a feast illuminating the city with oil lamps, however, was not an invention of the moment, but a practice which arose a long time before and gradually established over the years. The first historical document proving the tradition dates back to 1337
The Luminara was also proposed during other particularly solemn or joyful events, not necessarily involving the patron saint. For example, it was organized in honor of Vittoria della Rovere, during the party night for the carnival of 1539, whereas on 14th June 1662 the lighting was set up in honor of Princess Marguerite Louise d’Orleans, wife of Cosimo III. She passed through Pisa to go to Florence. A special and more recent edition is the one made on December 31st, 1999 to celebrate the new millennium.