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Monday, April 25, 2011

Ragusa, A City With Two Patron Saints

Panorama of RagusaImage via Wikipedia

By: Michele de Capitani

In all the Italian cities there are always many celebrations dedicated to a given saint, whom the inhabitants of the city are notably devoted to as s/he is considered the protector of the city itself and of the people who live in it. In the day devoted to their patron saints Italian cities are enlivened with celebrations and many interesting events, which always attract not only the inhabitants of the city, who like to keep this ancient tradition alive, bit also tourists and visitors coming from other cities, regions and countries, who take the chance to take part in celebrations to enjoy a very special and typical feature of a citys culture.

In the case of Ragusa, a beautiful Sicilian city, people do not have only one chance to enjoy this tradition, as the inhabitants of the city are devoted to two saints, thus celebrations are doubled. The patron saints of Ragusa are St John the Baptist and St George, two saints that are believed to have helped Ragusa and its inhabitants in the past and who are still remembered and celebrated for this reason. In the past there was even a sort of competition between two parts of the city, each celebrating only one of these saints, but nowadays this rivalry does not exist anymore really, and both saints are celebrated in a very sumptuous way in different days and parts of the city. However, in some important occasions the saints also met: in 2000, the year of Jubilee, for example, each saint visited the church consecrated to the other patron on the day devoted to that saint.

However, apart from these special occasions, the celebrations in honor of St John the Baptist and St George are very different from each other and are held in different times of the year. St Georges day falls on the last Sunday of May and is held in the part of the city that is also called Ragusa Ibla. On St Georges day the statue of the saint is carried around the streets of the city through a long procession, and the church that carries the name of the saint is embellished with flowers, lights and banners and the statue of the saint is positioned in the middle of the church, so that all devotees can worship him. Also the streets of the city are decorated with lights and colors, and when St Georges statue, together with his relics, are carried outside for the procession, a band begins to play.

St Johns day is celebrated in the upper part of the city on the 29th of August, which is believed to be the day of the martyrdom of the saint. The celebrations in honor of St John the Baptist are more solemn than the ones in honor of St George, and while St Georges day is now seen more like a folklore event, St Johns day still has a very important religious meaning. On the 29th of August the statue representing the saint is displayed on the central altar and is also carried around the streets, followed by the devotees with candles. St Johns day ends with a fireworks show.

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This article was written by Francesca Tessarollo with help from Ragusa hotels. For more information, please visit family vacations deals or hotel golf Italy.

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