From 3 to 5 February and 17 of August, Catania celebrates Saint Agata, the patron Saint of the city. It surely can be considered the most important patron saint in the world and there are three days of worship, devotion, folklore and traditions. No other feast can be compared to it and it is a wonderful mixture of devotion and folklore which attracts up millions of people from every part of the world, devotees and curious. The origin of the feast is really ancient and it dates back to 252. I don’t want to write about its history, but just write about the most powerful moments of the feast. The first day is dedicated to the “candles”, a really suggested custom during which candles are offered to Saint Agata and they are as tall and heavy as the person asking for protection. At the procession partecipate all the religious and political authorities of the city. This first day ends with a magnificent fireworks display in Piazza Duomo, in front of the Cathedral.
The 4 February is the most exciting day because it marks the first meeting of the city with the Patron Saint. The devotees wear a traditional white sack, a black velvet cap and white gloves . Three different keys are necessary to open the iron gate that protects the relics of the Saint in the Cathedral. When the last key is removed, the chapel is open. The face of Saint Agata is serene and happy and devotees are impatient to see her again. It’s a moment of great suggetion and faith. The bust of Saint Agata is hoisted on a silver Reanaissance fercolo and it’s rich in gold and precious gems from devotees. After leaving the Cathedral the fercolo crosses the places of martyrdom and retraces the events of the history of the “santuzza”. Saint Agata is alive in the crowd. The movement of the fercolo is preceeded by that of the candelore, huge candles covered with decorations and which represent the various categories of workers. They illuminate the passage for the participants in the procession.
The February 5 is the last day of the feast. In the late morning the pontifical is celebrated in the Cathedral and finally the fercolo can move again through the streets of the city among her citizens. It’s the most suggestive moment of the feast. Late at night the fireworks mark the end of the celebrations. When the fercolo returns in the Cathedral, the faces are marked by fatigue and the voices are reduced to a thin thread, but hearths are full of joy and faith. Saint Agata comes back to her chapel. Her face is sad and we need to attend a new year before meeting her, before meeting our “santuzza”.