The running of the bulls in Pamplona is also known as the Sanfermines in Spain because the fiesta held in honor of Saint Fermín, the patron saint of Navarra Province; Pamplona is the capital.
Three times before the start of the daily run, participants sing this song in front of a statue of the saint:
A San Fermín pedimos (We ask San Fermin)
por ser nuestro patrón (for he is our patron)
nos guíe en el encierro (to guide us in the bull run)
dándonos su bendición (giving us his blessing).
Viva San Fermín!, Gora San Fermín! (Long live Saint Fermin! in Spanish and Basque)
Legend says Saint Fermín was the son of a Roman senator in the city of Pompaelo (now Pamplona; it was named for Pompey) who converted to Christianity and went to spread the gospel in Amiens, France, where he was martyred in 303 A.D. The red scarf worn at the festival recalls his beheading.
Does the saint really protect runners? Perhaps. No one was gored today, although the bulls had plenty of opportunities due to imprudent runners and drizzle-slicked pavement that caused humans and bulls to slip and fall. As a further precaution against weekend crowds, the organizers chose to have bulls from the Miura Ranch run today, who are exceptionally fast despite their size, 615 to 700 kilos, but generally indisposed to attack runners.
During today's encierro, the bulls spread out, shoved imprudent humans aside, and provided the most spectacular run so far this year. See it here: http://www.encierrodesanfermin.tv/
Tomorrow is the last run of 2008.