December 15, 2011

The Faces of Santa Lucia


The Procession starts at 3:30 in the afternoon with the staccato bursts of fireworks. Men carrying the elaborate silver statue of Santa Lucia emerge from the Duomo (Cathedral) and the crowd pushes forward to get a first glimpse. Prayers, tears, and shouts of "Viva Santa Lucia" ripple in currents around us. Women dressed in black with green neck scarves carry the glass and silver case with a cherished relic: Saint Lucia's arm bone. They are followed by a group of men bearing green flags embroidered with the stunning image of the saint with a knife in her neck. The Knights of Malta march in two lines. Somber and intent, dressed in white with red Maltese crosses, they are walk in front of the priests in their frilly vestaments. And finally, she is in front of us: Santa Lucia being carried upon the shoulders of forty-eight proud men with green caps. Strong, dedicated, and devout followers, these men will carry her throughout the night. Fathers push forward with babies in their arms. Fervently holding their little ones up to their patron saint and encouraging them to give her a kiss just as they were probably encouraged to do when they were younger. An older woman standing next to me stumbles forth and with her husband's guidance she places her hand upon the silver base. Tears stream down her cheeks. Female devotees robed in green dresses, carry long yellow candles, and walk barefoot. As evening approaches, their candles are lit, the strings of electric lights twinkle, the full moon rises, and the procession surges forth. 

Santa Lucia Festa
Siracusa, Sicily
December 13th, 2011

1 comment:

Lisa said...

It sounds like a beautiful celebration. I love your pics of the faces of the celebrants - so expressive!