Feast of St. Agatha 2019: lights on the celebrations in Catania
For centuries, from February 3rd to 5th, Catania goes annually through a unique experience: the Feast of St. Agatha. Three incredible days dedicated to celebrate the “Santuzza” , as the locals use to name it, that involve thousands of curious and devotees every year. Eventfull days full of faith, tradition and devotion, a Feast that is quite unique in the world; the only comparison can be the Holy Week in Seville, Spain, or the Corpus Domini in Cuzco, Peru.
During these three days, the whole town is a buzz for the patron Saint’s Festival, the young Agata, Virgin and Martyr from Catania, whose touching story is impactful for everyone. The girl, a young and beautiful Christian coming from an aristocratic family, resisted the flattery of the Governor Quintianus, and struggled against any abuse of power to defend her faith and her moral integrity. But the cost of this choice were painful martyrdoms (above all the cutting off of her breast) and even her own life.
The Festival begins on February 3 with the long and solemn noon procession that goes from the Church of Sant’Agata alla Fornace up to the Cathedral, where the offering of the wax rite takes place. Eleven big candles, representing some local guilds, and the two Senate carriages close the procession: an eighteenth-century sedan, followed by a smaller car, carry the city’s administrators. In that same evening, ‘a sira’ u tri, a spectacular fireworks show is held in Piazza Duomo.
In the early hours of February 4, after the Messa dell’ Aurora (Dawn Holy Mass) , the bust of Saint Agata leaves the safe room inside the Cathedral where it is permanently kept. This is the most delicious climax to the crowd’s anticipation: people are strongly moved and, among their screams and applauses, accompained by religious songs, the procession begins. The Saint and her relics are brought outside the ancient city walls , drawn by a silver carriage. Running quickly while dragging the heavy carriage up to the “Cappuccini slope” is an ancient tradition too; in the meantime, the townspeople from Catania, with their traditional black skullcaps and votive white tunics, named ‘u saccu, wave a white handkerchief and invoke their Patron Saint: “Tutti devoti tutti, cittadini, viva Sant’Agata”. (Are we all devotees? Townspeople, long live St. Agata!).” And then another fireworks show.
February 5 is the “peak” of the feast. After the city tour, the cart reaches Piazza Borgo late at night. After a long and spectacular fireworks show, the “vara” reaches the cross between “Quattro canti” and the San Giuliano slope.
Last year Sicily Convention Bureau organised a Blog & Influencer Tour during the celebrations of St. Agatha – #MyAgathaExperience – that was memorable. Let’s have a look at the video to keep memory of this great experience.