The Feast of Saint Agatha officially begins on February 3rd till dawn on February 6th
Of all the patron saints worshipped in Sicily, Saint Agatha in Catania is the protagonist of the most famous yearly celebration; her relics are carried in a bust within a silver feretory by some of the devout followers. The Feast of Saint Agatha officially begins on February 3rd till dawn on February 6th, when the procession goes along the streets of the whole town. The wax offering starts from the Church of Sant’Agata alla Fornace in Stesicoro square where the initial rite and the procession reaches the Cathedral in Duomo square. The pilgrims follow the patron saint through the places of martyrdom, with the most exciting moment being a cchianata de ‘Cappuccini, the race of devotees carrying the feretory up to the slope that leads in front of the Church of San Domenico.
The pilgrims wear the traditional sack dress, a tight tunic with a cord, a black cap, a handkerchief and white gloves. During the days dedicated to the celebrations, the events that follow one another are numerous: fairs, concerts, fireworks, culinary traditions and tasting of typical sweets. The cassateddi and olivette of Saint Agatha are the desserts of the traditional feast. The name and shape of the cake, which recalls a severed female breast, remind us of the martyrdom suffered by the Saint whose breasts were torn.
The feast of Saint Agatha has a global reach, in fact, every year people from the whole world arrive in the city. Beautiful eighteenth-century carriages parade through the streets and eleven candles are carried in procession. The legend tells of the martyr Agatha died burned on her embers, for this reason she’s the saint of the fire of Etna and is invoked in case of them occurring.
the feast of Saint Agatha an ethno-anthropological heritage of humanity
In 2002, UNESCO proclaimed the feast of Saint Agatha an ethno-anthropological heritage of humanity. Even in August, Catania experiences the atmosphere of that party, thanks to fireworks that depart from the city’s port and from the roof of the church of Saint Placido. On this occasion we remember the comeback of the saint’s remains to Catania in 1126, after the long absence due to the theft of her relics and their conservation for eighty-six years in Constantinople.
Offering wax, concerts and fires, the celebrations for the patron saint of Catania do not stop there; the beautiful moments that also involve the previous days are many. Between preparations, prayers, meetings in the churches, where some relics are brought, they revive the soul of the people of Catania and are an opportunity for profound spirituality for the whole community. Devotion and faith have been handed down here for centuries, together with folklore, the typical products of this land and the sweets that are eaten during these days of celebration. Viceré Sicily supports the Sicilian tradition and culture, through the desserts dedicated to her.