According to tradition, the “Knights of Maria Santissima della Bruna”, patroness of the city of Matera, form the guard of honor of the “triumphal chariot,” which parades every year on July 2nd , carrying the statue of the Madonna.
According to some people, the Knights of Bruna recall the ancient procession of Saint Eustace, the first patron saint of Matera, belonging to the Imperial Roman army and often represented in arms.
Over the centuries, the escort to the triumphal chariot was provided by soldiers belonging to the armies that over the centuries have succeeded to each other in the city: even Napoleon’s army carried out this task in the early nineteenth century.
In more recent times, a group of free citizens, who perform this duty out of faith and devotion, was assigned the task of escorting the chariot. The knights, about ninety in number, pass down this role from father to son, with a clear hierarchy: general, deputy general, standard bearer, bugler.
They wear costumes that do not belong to a specific historical time; but are richly decorated with colorful ribbons, medals, and feathers; they also wear helmets and shining armor. They ride majestic horses, specifically trained to remain calm among the crowd.
All riders have golden armors, many of which are made by local artisans, helmets with feathers, spears with on the top a little cross-shaped flag , a cloak with rich decorations depicting the Madonna ,and a horse with richly decorated harness, all hand made by the women of the family.