Every first Thursday of May, in Cocullo, the snakes are the protagonists of the feast of Saint Domenick Abbott, a wandering monk of Umbrian origin who wandered between Lazio and Abruzzo in the X-XI century, and founded hermitages and communities.
These are harmless snakes of four kinds, caught on the hills with great skill as they come out of lethargy, in the month of March, and kept until the feast day.
The feast and the connection of the snakes with the saint already appear in Cocullo and in other neighboring centers around the XIV-XV century, but it reminds of the Italic Culture of the Marsi, who as farmers and shepherds of the Fucino, had to defend themselves from snakes.
The Marsi, moreover, were well known, in the late period of the Republic and during the centuries of the Empire, as poisonous snake charmers, and who, with magic formulas, cured poisonous bites as they wandered through the streets of Rome.
Around the XVI century, the figure of Saint Domenick, for reasons not well known to us, assumes all the Marsi's traditions associated with the snakes.
A huge crowd of pilgrims, coming from many parts of central and southern Italy, on the first Thurday of May, invade the narrow streets of the town. The company of Atina, a town near Cassino, advances toward the church in a procession preceded by bagpipes, and singing the suggestive chants of "entrance". The faithful, in the church of the Madonna of the Graces, after kissing the Saint's relics, perform rituals of archaic flavor. They pick up, from a previously gathered pile, the holy soil that they will bring back to their distant places, and which they will spread in the fields and around the houses to defend them from any invasion of caterpillars and snakes. They then, with their teeth, pull a cord so that the sound of a bell tied at the end of the rope will protect them from toothaches. The Saint's procession ends about noon, and the statue is covered with magnificent live snake specimen, which stir along the wood creases and sometimes reach the Saint's face, which is a negative foreboding for those gathered around. Five large bread loaves, called "ciambelle" are carried in the procession by little girls dressed in splendid costumes of the Marsi, and are destined to be given to the bearers of the Saint.