Each year, on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, the small town of Jessup, Pennsylvania, comes alive with the vibrant celebration of Saint Ubaldo Day. This unique festival takes place in only two places in the world: Jessup, PA, and its sister city, Gubbio, Italy. Deeply rooted in the town's history and culture, this cherished tradition unites the community in a festive display of heritage and camaraderie. Through traditional attire, a spirited "race," and devotion to the saints, the festival encapsulates the essence of Jessup’s history and the enduring legacy of its Italian immigrant community. Participants and spectators alike will find Saint Ubaldo Day to be a unique and unforgettable experience that celebrates faith, tradition, and the strength of community.

Saint Ubaldo Day in Jessup, PA


The Origins of Saint Ubaldo Day

Saint Ubaldo Day, or "La Festa dei Ceri," originated in Gubbio, Italy, and was brought to Jessup by Italian immigrants in 1909. The festival honors Saint Ubaldo, the patron saint of Gubbio, who is celebrated for single-handedly protecting the town from imminent invasion. The day is marked by a thrilling "race" that sees participants carrying statues of saints through the streets in a display of devotion and community spirit.

Jessup's Saint Ubaldo Day "Race of the Saints" in Lackawanna County, PA


What is the Race of the Saints and What Can I Expect?

La Corsa dei Ceri, known locally as the Race of the Saints, brings the vibrant spirit of Italy to the streets of Jessup, Pennsylvania. This family-friendly event invites spectators to line the race route (la Corsa dei Ceri) and cheer on participants who carry large wooden pedestals topped with statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George, and Saint Anthony, all hand-carved in Gubbio. This isn’t a traditional race; there is no passing. The goal is to keep the saint upright and ensure the pedestal never touches the ground, making it a test of strength, coordination, and respect for tradition.

The Race of the Saints begins at 5:30 pm, but the celebration starts in the morning and continues throughout the day. Be sure to attend the Alzata, or Raising of the Saints, at noon, and don’t miss the large statue of Saint Ubaldo, handcrafted in Gubbio, which ceremoniously starts the race by walking the route in reverse at 4:20 pm. Check out the full lineup of activities to fully experience this unique and festive day.

St. Ubaldo Day in Jessup, PA


The Statues and Their Journey

The statues of Saint Ubaldo, Saint George, and Saint Anthony are central to the celebration. Mounted on tall wooden platforms known as "Ceri," these statues are carried through the streets of Jessup by teams in traditional attire. The procession begins with a solemn blessing of the statues at the chapel of Sant' Ubaldo. Following the blessing, the teams, accompanied by lively music and cheering crowds, run through the town, carrying the more than 500-pound Ceri while navigating narrow streets and steep hills. The sight of the towering statues swaying and bobbing through the streets as they're passed off to participants running swiftly is a thrilling spectacle that captivates both participants and spectators.



The Teams and Their Significance

The highlight of Saint Ubaldo Day is the "race" known as the "Corsa dei Ceri." The race features three teams, each representing a different saint: Saint Ubaldo, Saint George, and Saint Anthony. Each team is distinguished by its unique colors and attire, which hold significant meaning in Gubbio.

• TEAM SAINT UBALDO: Devoted to Sant' Ubaldo, the team is traditionally dressed in yellow and represents the carpenters' guild. They carry the Saint Ubaldo statue, the procession's lead statue. The yellow team's success is seen as a sign of Saint Ubaldo’s continued protection over the town.

• TEAM SAINT GEORGE: Clad in blue and representing San Giorgio, the patron saint of merchants and armorers, this team carries the statue of Saint George, often depicted slaying a dragon, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. The blue team’s participation highlights the town’s historical connection to trade and defense.

• TEAM SAINT ANTHONY: Dressed in black, this team represents Sant' Antonio, the patron saint of farmers and livestock. They carry the Saint Anthony statue, which signifies the importance of agriculture and rural life to the community. The black team’s involvement underscores the town’s agricultural roots and the significance of farming to its heritage.

Saint Ubaldo Day in Jessup, PA


Where Can I Watch the Race of the Saints?

The race makes its way through Jessup, beginning at the corner of Powell and Ward Streets, making eleven stops along the route before ending at Veterans Memorial Field.

Spoiler Alert: Saint Ubaldo wins the race each year. It is his day, after all!

Great viewing spots along the route include:

1. Powell Avenue and Ward Street
2. Mylert Street and Short Street 
3. Grassy Island Avenue and Ward Street
4. Church Street and Center Street
5. The S Turn (Church Street and Front Street)
6. Church Street and Lane Street
7. Church Street and Third Avenue
8. At this point, the participants turn to run up Church Street.
9. Church Street and Erie Street
10. Erie Street
11. Veterans Memorial Field

Immediately following the Race of the Saints, a procession of the disassembled pedestals and the saint statues returns to the Saint Ubaldo Cultural Center (310 Third Avenue, Jessup), where a closing prayer occurs.



Enjoy the Jessup Carnival during Saint Ubaldo Festivities

The Jessup Hose Co. #2 Carnival, held during the Saint Ubaldo Day festivities near Veterans Memorial Field in Jessup, offers thrilling rides, fun games, nightly entertainment, and spectacular fireworks. Running throughout the weekend, it perfectly complements the cultural celebration of Saint Ubaldo Day.

Jessup Hose Co. No. 2 Carnival in Jessup, PA


Ready to Learn More About Saint Ubaldo Day in Jessup? 

To learn more about Saint Ubaldo Day, go to the Saint Ubaldo Society’s website at  www.saintubaldosociety.org, and for the most up-to-date information, follow their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/saint.ubaldosociety/

Local or visitor, be sure to mark your calendar for this distinctive cultural event. Join the people of Jessup as they celebrate La Festa dei Ceri and become part of a tradition that is both exciting and meaningful.