The festival of Sant’Agata, patron saint of Catania.
Above is the central post office and to the right the beginning of the majestic Villa Bellini, named in honour of Catania’s most famous son, Vincenzo Bellini the opera composer.
The council cover the main street, via Etnea, with sawdust to provide grip for those who will later carry the relic of the saint but also to help collect all the wax which will drip off the innumerable glowing candles.
Lighting the candles
The young men in the above picture must carry those huge candles on their backs for 3 days to give thanks for a favour received from the saint. When they make a petition to the saint asking for something, they agree that, if it is granted, they will carry a candle around the streets of Catania during the festival for every year of their lives. The festival lasts 3 days during which, the relic is carried, or rather dragged by several hundred men with ropes. It passes through much of the city during this time, the pinnacle being the final night when it is carried through the main street via Etnea.
Getting a lift with the heavy candle
The candle bearers pass in almost a gallop and therefore need someone to warn onlookers of the approaching danger of fire and hot dripping wax. This man swings his umbrella and shouts to keep others out of the way.
The relic is approaching and these young men are deep in a trance like prayer with some supplicating the saint for favours.
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Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
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