Festa di Santa Lucia (Feast of Saint Lucia) is a religious celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse, held every year on 13th and 20th December. Another important feast dedicated to the same Saint is the Feast of Saint Lucia of the Quails, held on the first two consecutive Sundays of May.
Saint Lucia was a martyr who died during the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his persecution of Christians. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox churches.
On the day of December 13, around 3.30 pm, the statue of the Saint is carried in slow procession, from the Cathedral of Syracuse, located on the Ortygia island, to the Church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro, located on the mainland, about 2 kilometers away.
The procession is followed by an 18th-century carriage, with costumed characters in the 18th century style. Many people, holding candles, make the journey barefoot, as a sign of thanksgiving.
The procession will pass through the Porta Marina, the only remaining ancient gate of the city, will cross the Umbertino Bridge and then head to the Borgata, the other historical district of Syracuse, where it will arrive in the evening.
Once in Piazza Santa Lucia, the festive sound of the bells will announce the entrance of Santa Lucia in the church, and the Holy Mass will take place.
One week later, on December 20, the parade goes the opposite way, and the statue, carried on the shoulders by the people, returns to the Cathedral. This time, the itinerary is different, and contains two important stops – the first at the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime, for an intense moment of prayer, and the second, a few hundred meters further, at the General Hospital Umberto I.
When the procession arrives at the Umbertino Bridge, the city greets Santa Lucia with festive fireworks, before it resumes its journey to the Cathedral.
In 2018, FESTA DI SANTA LUCIA will be held, as usual, on the day of December 13th. The return of the statue to the Cathedral of Syracuse will tale place on Thursday, December 20th.