The feast of Santa Barbara, Patron Saint of Paternò, takes place on 3, 4 and 5 December. The Saint was invoked during storms and fires, because in 1780, during a lava eruption, the relics were brought by the faithful near Ragalna, where the eruption miracously stopped. During the celebrations, in addition to religious services there is the procession of the Saint simulacrum accompained by waxes (varette) along the streets of the city; sport competitions and musical performances are organised in Piazza Indipendenza, too. On 4 December the entrance of the” fercolo” into the church of Sant ‘Antonio is very impressive.  For the occasion a remarkable  fireworks display is set up. December 2 is the “day of the varette,” also the following days are characterized by a traditional ceremony: December 3 is the eve,  a display is set  in the church where the relics of the Saint stay.

The solemn Eucharistic Concelebration takes place here and, in the evening, with the representation of the entry of the singers, the ancient cantata of the city corporations “Mulinari” and “Muratori” are performed, followed by the faithful and  accompanied by the band  “Città di Paternò”. The celebration continues on 4 December, the day of the martyrdom of Santa Barbara: from the early hours of the day all the bells ring and 21 cannon shots are fired from the Norman Castle. Early in the morning, at 8 a.m., the faithful crowd the temple of the Patroness to participate in  the “unveiling of the Saint”, that is, the opening of the room  where  the venerated  statue of Santa Barbara remains throughout the year. At 10 o’clock, at the tolling of the bells, sounded by the “mastro di vara”, the silver “fercolo” with the Simulacrum and the Relics of St. Barbara solemnly leaves the church amidst gunfire, firecrackers, the sound of bells and the melodies of the  bands, to be welcomed by the faithful and then the procession starts. In the morning of December 4, one of the most significant stops of the Saint, is  at the charming church of the Madonna dell’Itria, once it was her Church. Furthermore, eight days after the feast, precisely on 11 December, the bust depicting the Saint and the casket containing the Sacred Relics are carried on the shoulders of the faithful in procession in front of the church: it is  the  last greeting from the citizens to Santa Barbara, then they will  see it again on July 27 to commemorate “The translation of the Relics”, known  as the feast of “Santa Barbara in midsummer”. All devouted citizens will display flags, banners and images of the Saint outside their balcony. Very typical are the “Santa Barbara Biscuits” made with natural aromas of our Paternese citrus fruits. They can be found in the parish throughout the period of the fortnight, and on feast days. But this year because of  the anti-Covid measures there weren’t many of the characteristic aspects of the feast: there wasn’t  the  traditional “varette “ raising up, on 3 December  there were only moments of prayers celebrated in live streaming. Everyone lighted a candle to  pray at the feet of the Holy Relics. On 4 December  there wasn’t the release of the “fercolo”, but for the Solemnity of Santa Barbara, there were various holy Masses keeping the  safe distance. On 5 December   the day of city devotion, there was only a solemn Mass with the authorities.  

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Mariavittoria Collovà




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