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In pictures: Italy’s annual snake festival in the village of Cocullo

A statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

Every year people in Cocullo, a small medieval town in Italy’s Abruzzo region, adorn a wooden statue of its patron saint with live snakes and parade it through the streets.

The “serpari” festival, on 1 May, honours San Domenico di Sora for miraculously removing snakes from farmers’ fields in the 11th Century .

However, it is also said to originate from the ancient worship of Angitia, a Roman goddess of snakes worshipped by people in central Italy.

Faithfuls in traditional clothing hold snakes to place them on the statue of Saint Domenico during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

Some people wear outfits that are traditional to the Abruzzo region.

A faithful in traditional clothing carries a snake to place on the statue of Saint Domenico during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

Snake catchers and charmers – or serpari – catch four types of harmless snakes, before handing them out to worshippers.

A faithful carries a snake to place on the statue of Saint Domenico during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

The snakes are then placed gently on a wooden statue of San Domenico.

A statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

More and more snakes are added, until San Domenico is almost completely covered.

A statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP
Presentational white space

The statue is then carried through the streets, held up high in the centre of a long procession.

A statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP
A statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP
Presentational white space

While many march along, some people watch from their balconies.

After the festival, the snakes are released back into the wild.

People watch from a balcony as a statue of Saint Domenico covered with live snakes is carried by faithfuls during an annual procession in the streets of Cocullo Image copyright AFP

All images are subject to copyright

Source: bbc.co.uk

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