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The festival of Saint Agatha is the most important religious festival of the city of Catania. It is celebrated in honour of the patron saint of the city, and is one of the religious festivals of the catholic follow up, just for the number of people that involves and attracts.

The festival of Saint Agatha is the most important religious festival of the city of Catania. It is celebrated in honour of the patron saint of the city, and is one of the religious festivals of the catholic follow up, just for the number of people that involves and attracts.

Where: Municipio, Piazza Duomo.

CATANIA | Sicily
comitatofestasantagata@gmail.com
Pec: comitatofestasantagata@pec.it

Where: Municipio, Piazza Duomo.

CATANIA | Sicily
comitatofestasantagata@gmail.com
Pec: comitatofestasantagata@pec.it

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THE HISTORY

www.santagatacatania.it @ All Right Reserved 2020 | PRIVACY POLICY

www.santagatacatania.it @ All Right Reserved 2020 | PRIVACY POLICY

THE FESTIVAL OF SAINT AGATHA

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The photographic material was provided by Fabrizio Villa © Fabrizio Villa 2020 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

THE CONTENT WAS CREATED BY THE JOURNALIST ROSSELLA JANNELLO

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The history of Agatha

The martyrdom of the young and beautiful Agatha, belonging to a noble family from catania, is framed in the context of the persecution of christians ordered by emperor Decius in 250 he issued an edict of persecution against the christians. The edict forcing all citizens to sacrifice to the gods, adhering to the official religion in order to achieve security and wealth for the Empire. But Agatha, you refuse publicly to deny her love for God.


It tells the most ancient text come to us that is the February 5, 251 when, after enduring terrible torture, the young Agatha dies as a sign of his complete dedication to God. But before the piteous death, Agatha suffered the arrest, the interrogation, and the delivery to Aphrodisias, a woman of ill repute, for in order to convince her to abandon her beliefs; because nothing came from the flattery, there was a new interrogation, imprisonment, amputation of the breasts, healed by a miracle in the prison by the Apostle Peter, and finally the torture of hot coals on which the girl was made to roll naked body. After a new transfer to the prison Agate died, after having recited his prayer: “Lord, you have taken from me the love in the world, and hast preserved my body from contamination, you have made me overcome the torments of the executioner, the iron, the fire and the chains, you have given me in torments the virtue of patience; I beg you to receive now my spirit: because it is already time for me to leave this world and arrive at your mercy”.


On his tomb, according to tradition, is placed by a young man dressed in white, his angel, a tablet that reads: Mentem sanctam spontaneam honorem Deo et Patriae liberationem, Mind, holy, honor spontaneous to God and liberation of the Homeland. And the city, he immediately recognized the role of protector to Agate: already the 5th February 252 the veil that covered his tomb, was carried in a procession against the fiery lava flow that was heading to the gates of the city. And the casting is stopped.
 

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The history of the festival

Saint Agatha is an ancient festival. Indeed, for several centuries Catania has celebrated three anniversaries in honour of the Patron saint: the anniversary of the martyrdom, on the 5th of February; the translation of his relics from Constantinople on the 17th of August; the advocacy for the cessation of the plague of 1576.

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The most ancient description of the celebration dates back to the “ceremonial” of Don Alvaro Paternò, of 1522. The main festival took place between the 1st and the 12th of February. On the 1st of February, a solemn mass in the Cathedral was the beginning of the festivities. On the 3rd of February was marked by the procession for the offering of the wax that started from the church of Sant'agata the Vetere: it was attended by all the authorities and classes of society. There were about thirty of the votive candles of the corporations of arts and crafts (called then “gilii”). The 4 February was the only procession with the relics of the Saint, going around the outside of the walls of the city to avoid the narrow medieval streets unsuited to the crowd. The reliquary bust and the chest with the relics were transported on the pallet under the supervision of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, carried on the shoulder by 180 devotees, all belonging to the middle classes higher in catania. The devotees, called "naked," they were wrapped only in a cloth around the reservoir, and went barefoot. From the second half of the Seventeenth century, began to wear the current “lot”.


The 5 February is the feast took place only on the inside of the Cathedral, with the exhibition of the relics, and the solemn Mass presided by the bishop. The Cathedral remained open throughout the day, and closed with the singing of Vespers and the fireworks. For the whole of the eighth was held the exhibition of the relics. The February 12, the new rite and solemn procession of the reliquary inside the Cathedral.
The feast of the August 17, before only a liturgical celebration, it was side-by-side and then from the festivities outside and more days. The exposure of the bust reliquary in the Cathedral and the solemn Mass, after the Vespers followed by a procession of the relics in the cathedral and in the adjacent streets. The eruption of Etna of 1669, the lava that came up in the city, and the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed Catania, brought about changes also in the program of the festival. The festivities were suspended for about twenty years; the processional route was redesigned inside the city walls, highlighting squares and new streets. And the February 4, the path of the procession, he reached up to the central station and piazza Palestro. By 1846, the 5 you started to add the second procession of the relics with the statue, to touch the 6 monasteries of cloistered. After the second world war, the procession was extended up to the Village.
 

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The symbols of the festival

The feast of Sant'Agata it is also made from objects-symbols, very much loved by the catanese.
The candelore, “Baroque in motion,” which symbolize the Light that pierces the darkness of the night have always accompanied the procession. In 1514 , there were 22; in 1674 even 28 while the beginning of ‘900 , there were 13.


Today I'm back 13, heavy-duty from 400 to 900 pounds, brought to the shoulder, depending on weight, from 4, 8, 10 or 12 men. Each of them is linked to a guild of arts and crafts, or a “district” with the exception of the first, the smallest, willed by the bishop of Ventimiglia after the eruption of 1776 and that of the Citizens Club of Saint Agatha founded by Blessed Cardinal Dusmet.

The procession is always open, after the small Ventimiglia, from the candlemas of the Rinoti, entitled “the First Waxy” and donated by the inhabitants of San Giuseppe la Rena. To follow the presentation of the Ortofloricoltori (gardeners and florists), known as “The queen, that of the Fishmongers, the Greengrocers, known as the “young lady”, one of the chianchieri, the waxy of the Pasta, the waxy of the Grocers, the vendors get around, and then the Bakers, the heaviest of all, the “Mother”, supported by 12 carriers, that of the Citizens Club of Sant'agata, one of the Village Sant'agata and one of the Master Craftsmen of the Parish of Santa Maria Assunta.


To carry the relics of st agatha during the procession is the "fercolo", a fine piece of silverware of 1519 by Vincenzo Archifel. In the course of centuries the work has undergone several transformations, including technological and also damage as during the second world war. But it is the reliquary bustwhich contains the head of the beloved Patron saint, to take all the attention of the devotees who greet you, what is the image the official of the young Agatha , with a thousand flash and a thousand invocations to his appearing in the Cathedral. The bust reliquary in embossed silver and enamels, was made between 1373 and 1376 of the sienese artist Giovanni di Bartolo , and later covered with jewels and votive gifts. Other reliquaries and anthropomorphic keep the femurs, hands, feet, a breast and the sacred veil, and are kept in a large casket reliquary in embossed silver and carved, built between 1470 and 1556.
 

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