Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 27 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Simeon Sylites
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How the feast of St. Fermin led to the annual “running of the bulls”

RUNNING OF THE BULLS

Raymond Forget | CC BY-SA 4.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/01/19

St. Fermin of Amiens is one of the reasons why Spaniards annually rush through the streets of Pamplona.

For centuries residents of Pamplona, Spain, have hosted an annual “running of the bulls,” where daredevils race down the streets to avoid being trampled by a small herd of bulls. While the event has its practical origins, it also is closely associated with the week-long festival of St. Fermin.

St. Fermin is a legendary bishop and martyr who preached in the city of Amiens, France, during the 3rd century. This was during the Roman persecutions of Christians by the emperors Decius and Diocletian. Little is known about Fermin’s life, and many believe his existence is questionable. Regardless, various miracles were attributed to the finding of his relics, and some of these relics were transferred to Pamplona in 1196.

His feast is normally celebrated on September 25, but in Pamplona it was moved to July 7. A week-long festival was quickly established and activities were developed for each day.

The primary connection between St. Fermin and bulls is the story of his martyrdom. According to some traditions, St. Fermin was tied to a bull and dragged by his feet through the city until he died.

This connection was further cemented by the fact that farmers would transport their bulls to market in July and often needed a quicker way to do it. They eventually tried to coax the bulls into running and it soon became a contest, seeing who could reach their stalls first. A bullfight was added to the festivities and is now hosted after the race through the streets.

Contestants in the race sing a brief hymn to St. Fermin both before and during the race, asking for his intercession and protection. The words are roughly translated as, “We ask St. Fermin, as our Patron, to guide us through the bull-run and give us his blessing.”

Even the traditional garb for the festival, white with a red bandana, is meant to recall the martyrdom of St. Fermin.

While many of the festivities of St. Fermin have become more secular in nature, it all began with a celebration in honor of the 3rd-century bishop.


OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR

Read more:
Prayer of St. John Paul II to Our Lady of the Pillar in Spain, Mary’s first apparition


HOLY GRAIL

Read more:
On a quest for the Holy Grail? Many believe it is in a church in Spain

Tags:
SaintsSpain
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
morning
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
2
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
3
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
4
ORGAN
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
5
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
6
BABCIA Z WNUKAMI
Cerith Gardiner
5 Ways grandparents impact our lives for the better
7
ELON MUSK HOUSING
Sarah Robsdottir
What we can learn from Elon Musk’s housing decisions
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.