The Bust Of Sant’Agata Of Sicily

Replicas of the bust of Sant’Agata appear all over Catania. The actual bust is made of precious metals and is encrusted with jewels, making it extremely heavy. During these days of the feast, February 3 to 5, Catania’s faithful engage in back-breaking activities to illustrate their devotion and honor their patroness, Sant’Agata. Through rituals, they…

Sicily’s Breast Shaped Pastry

When you see this pastry show up in every pasticceria in Sicily, you know February is upon us. Minna di Sant’Agata (or Minna di Sant’Aita in Sicilian), or Saint Agatha’s Breast, is made and eaten in honor of the Sant’Agata, Catania’s patroness. The breast-shaped pastry represents the virgin martyr who is the patron saint of…

Agatha Prayed Louder

Christianity was illegal during Agata’s life in the early 3rd Century AD. So, when she refused the advances of the Roman prefect Quintianus, he arrested her and condemned her to a brothel as punishment. Having sworn herself to God, she protested participating in the activities of the brothel. As a result, Agata was thrown into…

Sant’Agata Inspires Community in Catania

Catania’s faithful engage in back-breaking activities to illustrate their devotion and honor their patroness, Sant’Agata, during these days of the feast. Through rituals, they emulate her suffering over three days of torture. Meanwhile, the “cittadini” also help each other and are kind and communicative with each other to get through the work. For example, to…

Celebrating Saint Agatha in Sicily

Viva Sant’Agata! For the next three days in Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, devotees of Sant’Agata will feverishly celebrate the virgin martyr who is identified by iconography where she is carrying her breasts on a plate. The city’s patroness (pictured as Roman soldiers attempted to burn her at the stake in this painting photographed in…

Today Women Claim the Streets

There’s no doubt that men dominate the annual activities of Catania’s Feast of Sant’Agata. The rituals that I’ve explained over the past few days are designed to display devotees’ physical strength and fortitude in tribute to the virgin martyr – – through expressions of traditionally male strength. However, in the past few years, women have…