Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Processions for St Agatha in Catania, Sicily

In the days leading up to the feast of St Agatha on February 5th, the Sicilian city of Catania, which honors her as a native daughter and heavenly Patron, holds a series of processions in which her relics are brought to various sites. One relic in particular, her veil, is an object of special devotion there; the Benedictus antiphon of her Office mentions the traditional story that it was once brought by a group of pagans to the place where a lava flow from nearby Mt Etna threatened the city, and stopped it. On the last Saturday of January, it is taken to the Collegiate Church of St Maria dell’Elemosina, and then on the following day, the provost and chapter bring it to the cathedral. Our thanks to Mr Piersanti Serrano for these photos; two videos of the ceremonies are included below.

One of the “candelore” of St Agatha, large sculpted wooden towers decorated with scenes of her martyrdom, which are carried in procession alng with the relics. “Candelora” is the Italian word for “Candlesmas”, which occurs three days before the feast of St Agatha; the proximity of the two feasts has also given rise to the tradition of carrying very large bundles of newly blessed candles in these processions.

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