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Festival of the Holy Cross on Sicily

Festival of the Holy Cross on Sicily
Festival of the Holy Cross on Sicily

One of the most amazing and spectacular festivals in Italy will be held from 25 to 27 May on Sicily in the town of Casteltermini (Agrigento province). This is the Feast of the Holy Cross (La Festa di Sante Croce).

The Feast of the Holy Cross is dedicated to an ancient cross, which was found in 1627 in the city territory (the settlement did not yet exist then). According to the legend, a shepherd, who grazed the cows, noted that several animals from the herd are standing in the same place on their knees and do not want to get up. On the third day along with other shepherds he began digging at the spot, where the cows stopped, and found a wooden cross. However, when the shepherds tried to take it home, they could not move the cross. When the local governor was informed about this miracle, he ordered to construct a church round the cross, which became the well-known Church of the Holy Cross. Inscriptions found on the cross pointed out that it was made in honor of the Christian martyrs, who died during the reign of the Emperor Decius in the middle of the III century.

However, in 1987 the cross from Casteltermini gave another surprise. Italian history professor Francesco Lo sent a sample of the wood to the laboratory in Pisa (one of the best in Europe) to determine the age of the cross. The radiocarbon analysis determined that the tree was cut down in 12 AD. But why only three centuries after people decided to make the cross from this tree still remains a mystery.

For nearly four centuries every May for three days the Holy Cross is stationed outside the church and everybody can see the relic. Festive costumed processions and festivities are in Casteltermini during these days.

Ilya Kozlovskiy

Date: 22/04/2012

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