Festival of San Calogero in Agrigento
The festival in honour of San Calogero in Agrigento combines folklore, tradition and devotion. The celebrations last eight days, from the first to the second Sunday in July.
The story goes that the “black” saint, who arrived in Sicily to evangelise and spread the Christian faith, took care of the poor and sick. He cured them using the sulphurous waters of the volcanic caves (now the Terme di Sciacca, known as Stufe di San Calogero), where he retired to live as a hermit.
During a period of plague, he went to the village to procure bread for the poor, and the people, holed up in their houses for fear of contagion, threw the bread out of the windows. This is the episode that the people of Agrigento commemorate, throwing small loaves of bread with sesame and fennel seeds as the statue of the thaumaturge saint passes by.
Even today, many believers go on pilgrimage to the Saint’s sanctuary, barefoot, to thank him for the grace received, and children wear white robes.
During the days of the festivities, the procession of the palanquin is preceded by the sound of a band of thunderous drums that circulate through the streets, among the stalls displaying local products. A fair of animals and farming implements is also held.
The day of the festival begins at the crack of dawn with holy mass, the alborata, and the traditional firing of firecrackers. At midday, the palanquin carrying the statue of the saint passes through the oldest streets and then returns to the church, to be taken out again in the afternoon to walk through the streets of the centre accompanied by the civil and religious authorities.
After the fireworks display, ‘a maschiata di San Calò, and the torchlight procession, the statue of the saint returns to the Sanctuary.