The name of the elephant of the dome of Catania, Eliodoro, better known as “Liotru” comes from a character: a magician who lived at the slopes of Etna. This magician, famous for his misdeeds according to the legend, created the elephant with the flowing lava.

Eliodoro, it is thought, was born into a wealthy family of Catania and wanted  to become a bishop or a prefect of the city. But the bishop Leone II didn’t agree with him. Failing in his plan, he approached a wizard who taught him the dark magic arts and started to be bad. He was so spiteful with people that he used to buy things from merchants paying them with preciouc gems which soon he transformed in stones as soon as he went away. Nobody could capture him because he used magic to disappear suddenly.

It is said that he has created the “liotru” to roam with the enormous pachyderm among the citizens and disturbing them. Noone could catch him, only the Emperor Costantino succeeded in comdemning him to death, even this is unknown to us. The bishop Leone II celebrated a rite to kill him definitively.

It is said that he caught fire and disappeared into his ashes, leaving it as a symbol to the city, his majestic elephant. Nowadays what remains of the necromancer Eliodoro is “U Liotru” the vulgar name of Eliodoro. It is a statue of an elephant situated in a famous square of Catania in front of the Cathedral in honour of St. Agatha, the patron saint of Catania, the most beloved saint in Catania.

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Aurora Cannizzaro


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