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The festival of Sant'Agata

08/08/2018

The festival of Sant'Agata

 

Is considered as the most popular festivity in Catania, from 3th to 5th of February, three days of cult, devotion, folklore and tradition. In St. Agatha's honour almost a million people swarm in the streets. 

Sant’Agata lived on the third century, she belonged to a noble family and she dedicated her life to Christ. She rejected the amorous advances of a roman prefect who then persecuted her for her cristian faith and submitted to the cruellest tortures. She was sentenced on the afternoon of the 5th February, 251 A.c. and after her death start to be venerated as a saint. She used to wear a dark red veil which is thought to have stopped several times the lava flow of mount Etna. That’s the reason why she was later proclaimed saint. The santification was celebrated with the return of her mortal remains to the city on 17th of august 1126. The town people runed on the streets to thank Christ for the return of the martyr in Catania. It was use of the past to show only the dark red veil during the festivities. Now, on her silver carriage, St. Agatha get across the city followed by the devotees wearing the "sacco" (a white alb). 

The festival of Sant’Agata has been recognized as a cultural heritage and registered to the REIS as a “precious cult in Sicily" which it keeps intact the fundamental elements of tradition. 

1st Day: The procession begins from the church of Sant’Agata della Fornace and ends at the Duomo. A carriage from the sixteen century brings the mayor of Catania from the "palazzo degli elefanti" to the church of San Biagio in order to deliver the keys of the city at the religious authorities. At evening Piazza Duomo becomes the scene of a concert dedicated to the saint.

2nd Day: is the most peculiar day, Sant'Agata's reliquary statue is being carried out of the Cathedral and shown through the crowded streets of the city, a day long procession with several stops at all the places that have a connection with the saint's life, the procession keeps until the sunrise of the 5th February.

3rd Day : In the late morning of the 5th of February, a Pontifical Mass is celebrated. Around 6pm the statue of Sant'Agata is once more carried out of the Cathedral for another city tour. From Via Etnea to Piazza Cavour where she get greeted with fireworks, the procession continues with the “Acchianata di Sangiulianu”, a long and steep up-hill. The statue stops outside the Benedictine Convent in Via dei Crociferi for a traditional song made by cloistered nuns and finally return to the Cathedral.

During this days of devotion all the streets offers typical food: panini, nougat, cedar, the "olivette" and the "Minnuzze di sant’agata" (sponge cake covered with white marzipan and topped with a cherry). 

From 28/01/2018 to 09/02/2018 Exhibition dedicated to Sant'Agata at Leucatia castle.

 

 


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