Historic militias


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

In Ticino there are two types of historic militia: the historic militias of the Blenio Valley and the Lugano Volunteer Corps. Their role in their respective communities and at certain times of the year is equally important and established, but their historical origins and their present day function are different. The Bleni militias originated from a vow expressed in 1812 by some soldiers who, called up to fight in the Napoleon’s Russian campaign, promised to honour the Madonna or their patron saint every year at the village festival if they returned safely from battle. Back home, they set up military corps to perform ceremonial duties at the feasts in their villages. Even today, every year the historic militias of Leontica, Aquila and Ponto Valentino take part respectively in the feasts of St. John the Baptist (24 June) and of the Madonna of the Rosary (first Sunday in July), and in the celebrations in honour of the Madonna of Carmel (third Sunday in July). The Lugano corps was founded in 1797 to ward off possible attacks from the nascent Cisalpine Republic, with the duty to guard the City of Lugano, day and night. It was reconstituted in 1929 for a federal shooting event held in Bellinzona, when the City of Lugano enacted its statutes and promoted it to be the city’s guard of honour. Permanent fixtures in the Lugano Corps’ calendar are 1 January, 15 February (when it lays a wreath at the memorial to Giovanni Taglioretti, a volunteer who fell in the battle against the Cisalpine army on 15 February 1798), the third Sunday in May (on the Feast of Our Lady of Grace) and 1 August.

Image gallery

  • Leontica: drummers in the foreground and flag-bearers © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members donning their uniforms © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members during Sunday mass © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members during Sunday mass © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members in the procession along the village’s main street together with the Brotherhood of Saint Rosario © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: a salute is fired to honour the dead © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Leontica: before the celebrations, the youngest member of the militia hands the bayonet to the commander © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: procession through the village streets © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: two sappers standing to attention in the foreground © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: a salute is fired to honour the dead © Giuliano Giulini, 2007
  • Ponto Valentino: group of drummers © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: group of sappers in the foreground © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia members standing to attention in the square in front of Saint Martin’s church © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia in the procession, followed by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Carmel © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia marching through the village streets with two flag-bearers in the foreground © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 2013) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.01.2012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.01.2012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.012012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the National Day Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Members of the Lugano Volunteer Corps depose a crown at the Independence Monument (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Members of the Lugano Volunteer Corps depose a crown at the Independence Monument (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Leontica: drummers in the foreground and flag-bearers © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members donning their uniforms © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members during Sunday mass © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members during Sunday mass © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: militia members in the procession along the village’s main street together with the Brotherhood of Saint Rosario © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Aquila: a salute is fired to honour the dead © Roberto Pellegrini, 2011
  • Leontica: before the celebrations, the youngest member of the militia hands the bayonet to the commander © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: procession through the village streets © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: two sappers standing to attention in the foreground © Letizia Gianora, 2011
  • Leontica: a salute is fired to honour the dead © Giuliano Giulini, 2007
  • Ponto Valentino: group of drummers © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: group of sappers in the foreground © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia members standing to attention in the square in front of Saint Martin’s church © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia in the procession, followed by the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Carmel © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Ponto Valentino: militia marching through the village streets with two flag-bearers in the foreground © Ely Riva, 2003
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 2013) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.01.2012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.01.2012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the New Year Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.012012) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Parade of the Lugano Volunteer Corps at the National Day Parade in Lugano (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Members of the Lugano Volunteer Corps depose a crown at the Independence Monument (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi
  • Members of the Lugano Volunteer Corps depose a crown at the Independence Monument (Lugano, 01.08.2011) © Sergio Romaneschi

References and documentation

Publications
  • Davide Adamoli e Damiano Robbiani (a cura di): Milizie bleniesi. Milizie storiche della valle di Blenio. Tra storia e memoria. Lottigna, 2012

  • Gaetano Beretta: I ticinesi nella campagna di Russia (1812). Bellinzona, 1937

  • Ariano Trevisan: Ritorno alle origini. Dalla Beresina al rinnovo della Milizia storica di Leontica. 1812 – 2007 (video). 2007

  • RSI LA1: Servizio “Pietre vive” dedicato alla Milizia Aquilese della Madonna. In: Strada regina. Il il settimanale cattolico alla TV svizzera, puntata 269 trasmessa il 15 gennaio 2011 (video)

  • Mario Vicari: Documenti orali della Svizzera italiana. Valle di Blenio. Seconda parte. Ed. Ufficio cantonale dei musei. Bellinzona, 1995

  • Micaela e Fernando Garzoni: Il Corpo dei volontari luganesi: Polaroid 50 x 60. Breganzona, 1992

  • Carlo Anonio Gianinazzi: I volontari luganesi nel secondo centenario dell'indipendenza. Pregassona, 1998

  • Aldo Petralli: 1798. Un anno storico. Pubblicazione edita in occasione del 50.mo di ricostituzione del Corpo Volontari di Lugano. sLugano, 1979

Documentation
  • Milizie storiche

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