Festa della Madonna del Carmelo a Catania

While waiting for some pasta to become al dente I heard a brass band in the distance.  Then I remembered La Festa della Madonna del Carmelo.  Unsure of what it involved, it seemed like a good idea to treat my ears to the marching brass band.

La Madonna del Carmelo

On the street I heard chants of “Viva Maria!” and much commotion in the distance.  Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II or Piazza Umberto as the locals call it was lit up in glorious colour.  Via Mesumerci was awash with light also so this encouraged me to follow the illumination in search of the procession.

La Madonna del Carmelo

I came upon a large crowd at a crossroads. They moved along behind a type of cart which held the relic of their saint. They moved on towards a piazza by Chiesa Santa Maria Ammalati where they seemed to stop and wait as more people gathered. Many sat around a fountain, others stood by kiosk, enjoying a quick seltz a limone while they waited. The relic made its way around the piazza and stopped by the kiosk where people got a closer look.

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

Suddenly without fore warning, a huge firework went off, stopping people in their tracks.  A slight pause to lull you into false security and another two went off.  They were coming from the front of the church where now I understood the purpose of the red and white tape which was stretched across the area in front of the church.

The display was quite dazzling with colours and sounds interchanging. This art has been finely perfected by Italians at their local festivals.

Once the spectacle was over, the relic set off past the entrance of the church and down via Giuseppe Verdi. I walked alongside noticing for the first time that it was the women, clad in brown hooded cloaks, who were pushing this huge cart along.  They struggled under the weight of the relic.


La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

The brass band played on, young and old stood side by side.  The young had thin sheet music attached to their instruments, the old had it embedded in their brains.
The procession entered the fiera or market area and the huge piazza filled quickly.  Suddenly another firework display went off, this time on a more fantastic scale. The relic was maneuvered around until it faced the steep incline leading into the church.  The men then “ran” the relic up the steep concrete ramp and into the cathedral.

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

It was 1am; I had spent the last 3 hours in awe following this magical event.  Then all made their way home: families with tired children, old men who had seen it all, restless young students and some curious faced tourists.


John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL


Back to the Gaff

Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland

Dublin, Ireland, Irish writing, short stories

Back to the Gaff is a book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.

Ebook and Paperback available: 




John P. Brady is an Irish writer, Financial Trader and occasional journalist.  He divides his time between Ireland and Italy.  His interests include travel writing, social comment and eccentric debauchery. His first book, Back to the Gaff, described as "Trainspotting meets Dubliners" is available. Buy the ebook

4 thoughts on “Festa della Madonna del Carmelo a Catania

  • September 25, 2012 at 22:58

    The brass band played on, young and old stood side by side. The young had thin sheet music attached to their instruments, the old had it embedded in their brains.

    Love this line.

    In other news: the fireworks have been beyond all comprehension recently. There was a week when they seemed to be going off every single night. Have the Sicilians just gone pazzi with the extreme heat, or are there actually festivals happening? Chissà …

    • September 29, 2012 at 15:50

      Thanks for the positive feedback. I know what you mean about the fireworks, they were a nightly event for a while, now I don’t even notice it any more. Halloween is coming, that’s the only time we normally see it. Although you’re on the money, the heat could force people into peculiar activities!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *