Feast of Saint Efisio 2016
Feast of Saint Efisio: May 1, in Sardinia, is a date circled in red on the calendar, it takes place, in fact, in Cagliari the “Festival of Saint Efisio“: hundreds of thousands of people come to the capital from all parts of the island to join the party dedicated to the Holy Warrior, patron of Sardinia, which in 1652 saved the city from the plague. This is the biggest party of the whole island, hundreds of folk groups representing cities and towns of the island, militiamen and riders parade through the streets of Cagliari, escorting the chariot pulled by oxen carrying the statue of the saint.
It ‘s a really great way to see all the traditions and island regions by standing in one place, each costume of each country is indeed unlike any other, different finishes, different headdresses, various jewelry. A show that tells all the richness of an island.
Nobody can almost see the road surface because of the bed of flowers and petals, the sirens of ships in port playing in unison to greet the Holy step, followed by a crowd of devotees praying, asking graces and favors. A show of a thousand intense colors, so much so that it is in the process of being recognized as intangible heritage of humanity by Unesco.
Saint Efisio the Holy who came from Syria:
Sardinia is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean and for thousands of years it conveys the historical and cultural influences that come from the sea, the refugees in recent months from the Middle East, are not the only ones who never arrived in Europe from Syria. According to tradition Efisio was from Elijah, city of Syria, a young officer of the Roman army, after a brilliant career at the court of Diocletian, he was sent on a mission in southern Italy and then in Sardinia. Here he converted to Christianity, was arrested and later martyred in what today is the seaside tourist town of Nora, in Pula, 25 kilometers from Cagliari.
The longest procession in Europe:
The festival of Saint Efisio doesn’t end in the morning of May 1 through the streets of the historic center of Cagliari, but it arrives, strictly on foot, to the place of the saint’s martyrdom. With its 25 km, this is the longest in Europe religious procession. During the stages the Sainct stops at the beautiful Church of Saint Efisio at Giorgino, then at Villa d’Orri , he sleeps in Sarroch and arrives the next day at Pula. At Nora, the Holy traces, with a procession at the sea, his attempted escape from the ancient Roman city, passing through the archaeological site you will come up on the beach, where is the church dedicated to him and built on the site of martyrdom, where once was the Phoenician-Punic and Roman cemetery. The next day the statue goes back to Cagliari, taking the same route in reverse.
Program 2016 Feast of Saint Efisio:
2016, 1st May:
The grand procession begins at 9:30 am, opened by the traccas, followed by the devoted people in their traditional dresses and the riders, the militias. The Saint’s coach sets out at noon, and proceeds through the city center passing in front of the City Hall.
The pilgrimage then proceeds with a series of stopovers and reaches Sarroch, where it stops for the night.
2016, 2nd May:
The procession proceeds to Nora, the place of martyrdom.
2016, 3rd May:
Saint Efisio advances on the road reaching the ruins of the Roman city of Nora, and then returns back to Pula.
2016, 4th May:
The procession leaves for Cagliari at 8 am and reaches the city at about 10.30 pm. Before midnight, the great feast is over.
photo credits: Cover pic and pic n° 5 from the official Cagliari tourism website, pics 2-3-4 by Cristiano Cani, pics 6-7 by sardegnainblog.it.