PRIOR CONTRADA OF THE OWL - FROM THE PAST

Uniformed men who officially represent the ContradaOriginally founded by the men of the compagnia di San Virgilio and San Pietro in Banchi, the contrada of the Owl later took in the citizens of the San Cristoforo quarter, who had gathered at the bull hunts of the early 16th century under a banner depicting a bear. At the close of the 17th century, the parish priest permitted the contrada to use the church of St. Peter in Banchi for its religious services. The old building in Via Banchi di Sotto had been constructed on the foundations of an ancient temple of Jove. The church received little light from its small windows, and for this reason it was called St. Peter Buio, or the dark. In 1699, the Owl won the July Palio and donated the victory banner to the church. Another victory in July 1727 favored by the propitious release of an owl in Piazza del Campo before the start of the horse race. In 1761 when the contrada won both the Palio of July and that of August, thus accomplishing for the first time in palio history what is locally known as “cappotto”. In 1788 the Owl was forced to abandon St Peter Buio when the church was deconsecrated and sold to private owners. At the close of the 19th century, all the priors of the contrade were called to a number of meetings for the preservation of Sienese customs and they were hosted by the contrada of the Owl. For this courtesy, the contrada was honored with the title of “Prior”, which it holds to this day.

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