Festa di Sant’Agata 2020, one of the most important religious festivals in Sicily, will take place between February 3 and 5, in Catania. The feast is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Agatha, who was martyred around the year 251 AD, during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius.
Saint Agatha is celebrated in Catania twice a year – the feast held in February commemorates the martyrdom of the Saint, while the Summer Feast of Saint Agatha, held on 17 August, celebrates the return of her remains to Catania, after 86 years in which the relics were kept in Constantinople.
In February, around one million people come from all over Sicily to attend the feast, which is comparable with the Holy Week in Seville, Spain, or the Feast of Corpus Domini in Cuzco, Peru. For three days, the city forgets about everyday things to focus on the celebration, a mixture of devotion and folklore.
PROGRAM OF THE EVENT
On February 3rd, around noon, the feast begins with a solemn procession dedicated to the wax offerings. From the Church of Sant’Agata alla Fornace to the Cathedral of Catania, the procession cuts through a very large crowd, being accompanied by 12 giant candles known as candelore. Every candelora is carried on a golden carriage decorated with flags, statues and dozens of smaller candles. The first day of the feast ends in the evening, with a fireworks display in the main square of the city, Piazza del Duomo.
The second day, February 4th, is the most exciting day, because the city meets its patron saint. The remains of Saint Agatha, which are kept in the Cathedral, are placed in a silver palanquin named fercolo, weighing almost 3 tons, and carried in procession throughout the city. The procession lasts the whole day.
On the third day, at sunset, the second part of the procession begins, which winds along the streets of the historical center of Catania. The most awaited moment is the ascent of San Giuliano, which due to the slope is the most dangerous part of the whole procession. It represents a test of courage for the participants. At dawn, on 6 February, the fercolo reaches Via Crociferi and the festivities end.