The feast of Saint Lucy in Siracusa begin as early as the afternoon of 30 November, with the band playing through the streets of the Old City. On 9 December the silver statue of Santa Lucia is displayed in the chapel of the Cathedral dedicated to her. On 13 December, the statue and the Saint’s relics are carried in solemn procession through the city, to arrive at the tomb, situated in the Cathedral.

The procession goes on for several hours, taking the form of a solemn pilgrimage during which the saint’s devotees shout “Siracusana je!” (“She is a Syracusan!”). Holding lighted candles in their hands, many people walk barefoot to enhance their thanks and pleas to the Saint. The statue of Santa Lucia, along with twelve cilii, huge wooden candelabra decked with flowers, is followed by the carriage of the city’s Senate and its retinue, whose members are dressed in 18th-century clothes. As the statue reaches the Piazza Santa Lucia, a ringing of bells announces its entrance into the church.

During the following eight days, large crowds come to visit the Saint and her tomb. Santa Lucia returns to the Cathedral on the 20 of December: this time, though, the procession and crowd follow a different itinerary. The first stop is at the shrine of Our Lady of Tears and the second at the Umberto I hospital, for a time of prayer.

On arrival at the bridge called Ponte Umbertino, Santa Lucia is saluted with fireworks before being carried back to her chapel.

Sharing this event with a community that feels so strongly bound to the Saint’s life is a most powerful experience.