Rice Balls, Glorious Rice Balls

Before I continue with the significance of the December 13 Feast for Santa Lucia, let’s talk about the really serious stuff! That is, that Palermitani celebrate the Saint by eating arancine. Arancine (as they are known in Palermo, pictured right; Arancini, if you’re from the east side of Sicily, pictured left), are rice balls filled…

These Eyes

These eyes are iconography known as an ex-voto. Ex-votos, which are most often in the form of body parts, are very common in Sicily. They are given to a saint or divinity at his or her sanctuary by pilgrims as gratitude for healing of an ailment or grace received. These eyes pictured, were given to…

Cookie of the Beholder 

Of course we know that for la Festa di Santa Lucia Sicilians eat Cuccìa (pictured top) and arancine (rice balls), purposefully avoiding wheat grain in recognition of the severe famine of 1624 that the patron saint of wheat, eyes, sight, and light helped resolve once she heard her devotees’ prayers. But what I learned from my friend…

Ex-votos: Sacred Testimonials

At the sanctuary devoted to the Madonna della Milicia in Altavilla, pilgrims have offered ex-votos to the Virgin Mother. Ex-votos are iconographic body parts or other symbols that are given to the Madonna (That is, in this case. At other sacred sites, ex-votos would be offered to the divinity or saint celebrated there.) as gratitude…