Pamplona: Of Bulls and Saints

What is the true name of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls?

Most people have no idea what the festival is truly named. Nor, for that matter, what exactly is being celebrated.

Unbeknownst to most machismo-infused bull runners, the annual festival in Pamplona is actually a religious festival called San Fermin. The festival technically honors the saint of the same name whose relics are carried on the first day of the festival in a solemn procession from the Church of San Lorenzo to the Cathedral of Santa Maria. And then, if you’ll excuse the sacrilege, all hell breaks loose.

“San Fermin would be crying if he could see what’s going on at his feast,” Padre Jesus Labari told the author of a Smithsonian article which discusses the festival and the role religion plays–despite widespread ignorance amongst foreign celebrants who only embrace religion during the festival when a wild bull is bearing down on them.