by Alyssa Giesler, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange Participant in Italy
After I arrived in Catania, I learned that the city was celebrating its annual “Festa di Sant’Agata” (Festival of Saint Agatha), the patron saint of Catania. Legends tells us that Sant’Agata dedicated her life to God and refused to marry. One man, Quintian, held great power in society and tried to force her to change her mind by making her live in a brothel. When she continued to resist and preach the word of God, her breasts her cut off and her naked body was rolled over hot coals, and she died a martyr. In Catania, she was asked for help during an eruption of Mt. Etna, and the people of Catania believe she now protects the city from the volcano. She is the protector against fire. The festival of Sant’Agata takes place on February 3-5, and on the last day there is an all-night procession of her remains through the city. The procession begins at the cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo down Via Etnea which proceeds towards Mt. Etna.
The celebrations were magnificent. On the last night we went to the Piazza del Duomo for the beginning of the procession and the firework display. I can honestly say that it was the most amazing display of fireworks I think I have ever seen.