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…

The Feast of Sant’Agata, Day 2

Last night, Catania’s Piazza del Duomo, the main city square, was jammed with onlookers awestruck by the magnificent fireworks display choreographed to symphonic music. Last year, when I witnessed it, my breath was taken away by the magnitude of the presentation. It was unlike any other pyrotechnic display I have seen! Simply stupendous! Today at…

The Legend of Sant’Agata or Saint Agnes (Saint Agatha), Part 2

This 1786 painting by Mariano Rossi (1731-1807), The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha (on display in the Museo Civico at Castello Ursino in Catania), gives us a glimpse into the fate of our beloved Christian patroness. To recap from yesterday’s post, after the beautiful virgin Agatha refused the advances of the Roman prefect Quintianus, he arrested…

Saint Agatha’s Breasts

Make no mistake, these pastry are created to look like breasts. And, I will say also, that it is a celebration of them! I’m preparing you for the big feast in Catania. From February 3 to 5, Eastern Sicily’s largest city (and the second largest in Sicily) is alive with passionate fervor as devotees celebrate…

Keeping You Abreast

From February 3 to 5 the city of Catania is alive with passionate fervor as devotees celebrate their patron, Saint Agatha. These ricotta-filled pastry, pictured, called “minna di Sant’Aita” or Saint Agatha’s Breast represent Agatha, who is the patron saint of martyrs, bakers, earthquakes, wet nurses, and breast cancer patients. Her story starts in early…