Catania, Sicily. From February 3rd to 5th, a huge celebration takes place in the city. It’s the feast of Saint Agatha, one of the most important religious events in Italy. People commemorate the life of the patron saint who was a Christian martyr during the III century AD. Sicilian Secrets brings you there. Are you curious to know more? Read the article.
Have you ever been in Catania? If you want to visit the city, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the feast of Saint Agatha. It takes place from February 3rd to 5th, it’s a mix of religious celebrations, colors, traditional food, etc.: let’s learn something more about these holy days that every year attract many devotees and tourists.
History: some hints
Saint Agatha was a virgin martyr who is celebrated on February 5th. She’s the patron saint of Catania and because of her personal history, protects breast cancer patients. Agatha was a young girl from a Sicilian noble family who made a vow of virginity. For this reason, she continuously said no to the advances of Quintianus, a Roman prefect. He decided to have his revenge and during the persecution of Decius, she was arrested and after many tortures (they cut off her breast), according to the so-called Legenda Aurea, died in prison in 251 AD.
Saint Agatha and Catania, why?
Not so many people know that Saint Agatha is the patron saint of Malta and many other cities around Italy too. So, why is she so related to Catania? They say that a year after her death, on February 1st 252, an eruption of Mount Etna risked destroying the city. So, the inhabitants took the white veil that was used to wrap her tomb and utilized it as a shield to block the lava. At that point, a miracle happened, the veil became red and stopped the hot flow: it was February 5th, her martyrdom anniversary.
The feast, what a great celebration!
Every year the feast begins on February 3rd and many people crowd the streets of the city. In the evening, fireworks illuminate the main square, Piazza Duomo. On February 4th, after the Dawn Holy Mass, the statue of Saint Agatha leaves the Cathedral and the procession moves towards the church of Saint Agatha alla Fornace and Saint Agatha al Carcere (the place where she died) then. It’s a great moment that excites people, is very touching as well. The last day, February 5th, is definitely the most awaited. After the saint crossed the city, fireworks entertain everybody, and people happily yell “Cittadini, viva Sant’Agata!”.
The feast of Saint Agatha is characterized even by traditional food. The most famous pastries in Catania are the so called ‘minne di vergine’ (breast of the virgin), one of the iconic symbols related to this saint. These small sweets are made with sponge cake, ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit like cassata. Delicious!
Maybe all of this caught your attention and who knows…made you more curious about Sicilian traditions. The best way to fully enjoy this and many other celebrations? Come to Sicily with Dimensione Sicilia, of course! In the meantime, watch the video we made and plunge into the atmosphere of this holiday.