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Saint Agatha



 
One characteristic of the feast is "the Fercolo" (a cart to carry the statue) and  "La Vara", which contains the relics of the saint.
 

The heavy cart is usually pulled (by ropes) by 100's of devotees wearing white tunics. 
From February 3 to 5, the city dedicates to St. Agatha a big celebration, a mixture of faith and folklore.
According to tradition, at the news of the return of St Agatha's relic, the bishop went in procession through the city barefoot, by night, followed by the clergy, the nobles and the people


 
La festa  (the feast)  of St. Agatha is the most important religious festival of the city of Catania .
The festival takes place every year 3 to 5 February and 17 August. 
One million people among devotees, pilgrims, tourists and onlookers from all over the world will visit Catania. It is considered one of the three major Catholic celebrations around the world for public attendance.

 

The first date is that of the martyrdom of the saint of Catania, while the date of August reminds the return of her remains to Catania after they were stolen and brought to Constantinople by the Byzantine general George Maniakes as spoils of war and where they remained for 86 years. 
 
 
According to tradition, Agatha was born into a rich and noble Sicilian family from Catania or Palermo in the year 238.


 
Sant' Agata (230 - 251) was, according to Christian tradition, a young woman who lived between the third and fourth century, during the proconsul Quinziano.
 
 
In the Catholic and the Orthodox Church she is venerated as a saint, virgin and martyr.
Her name appears in the Martyrology since ancient times, she is also the patron saint of Molise, San Marino, Malta and Sorihuela del Guadalimar (Spain).

In Malta tradition has it that she took refuge from persecution at the St Agatha Catacombs in Rabat and in 1551 her intercession through an apparition to a Benedictine nun is reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion.


 
Documents narrative of the martyrdom indicate that St. Agatha may have been born in Catania.
 
In fact the wording in verse 1 suggest that Agatha was martyrized in Catania; in verse 24 the same Latin writing reports that roman proconsul Quinziano interrogated Agatha requesting to know her family status.

Verse 25 refers that Agatha answered Quinzano saying: "I am free not only by birth, but I also come from a noble family, as stated in all my kinship". It is also believed that the Saint was originally from Palermo, from the district of Sant'Agata alla Giulla.

Sent to Catania with the intent to enforce the edict of the Emperor Decius, which demanded that all Christians must renounce their faith publicly, Roman prefect, Quinziano fell in love with the rich and noble young woman  who having dedicated her virginity to God rejected the amorous advances.


Quintano reacted by 
putting her in the custody of  Adrodisica, a priestess (keeper of a brothel) of Venus or Ceres devoted to sacred prostitution, the final aim was the moral corruption of Agatha through constant psychological pressure, made of enticements and threats and forcing her to take part in Dionysian orgies, then widespread in Catania.

When all the attempts to corrupt Agatha's principles failed Quinziano ordered her jailed.
But more realistically, one can imagine a more complex picture: that behind the persecution of Agatha, the most exposed of her wealthy family due to her religious beliefs, there may be the intent of confiscating the family's assets.

When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quinziano had her tortured, one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off.

 

Tradition indicates that during the night she was visited by St. Peter who reassured her and healed her wounds (she is  often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate).
 

 
Finally, she was subjected to the torture of hot coals.
The following night  she died in her cell, according to the Legenda Aurea  "in the year of our Lord two hundred and fifty-one in the time of Decius, the emperor of Rome".
Agatha is buried at the Badia di Sant'Agata, Catania.  






















~Traditional sweets ~
Cassata di Sant' Agata

Agatha's breasts
(minnuzzi ri sant'Àjita)​




S Agata 2012 Catania February 3, 2012 Fireworks 2 - BELLINI BROADCASTING SERVICE ©
 

 
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