The feast of Saint Efisio it’s listed in the Immaterial Patrimonies of the Humanity, under the sponsorship of the UNESCO.
In 1652 the plague was raging in Sardinia. The city authorities sought aid making a solemn vow to Saint Efisio, the martyr, a Roman soldier who, just before being executed because of his faith, had promised to protect for ever Cagliari and its inhabitants.
With this vow, the municipality promised to take the statue of the Saint in procession from the place where Saint Efisio was imprisoned, in the neighbourhood of Stampace in Cagliari, to the beach of Nora, next to Pula, where he suffered martyrdom. The plague ended. Since then, every spring the vow is fulfilled with deep devotion and sincere gratitude.
Each year, from 1st to 4th May, the Feast of Saint Efisio assembles the devoted to the Saint, the traditional dresses and the colours of entire Sardinia in a moving and grand procession.
The cortege starts from Cagliari to Nora (Pula) to the small church in the neighbourhood of Stampace from where it started. A very long pilgrimage with thousands of devout people from all over the island, who proceed on foot, on horseback or riding in the traccas, the old country carts drawn by oxen and decorated with fruit and fl owers.
All the procession anticipate the appearance of Saint Efisio – before him the pilgrims, then the traccas, followed by the religious confraternities and the Miliziani (guards) riding their horses and wearing their historic uniforms with red jackets.
Also the Alter Nos, dressed in morning suit and top hat, delegated to represent the Mayor and the whole city of Cagliari, accompainies the Saint. In front of the City Hall, the Saint’s statue stops to receive the homage of the City, while bells ring joyfully together with the sirens of the ships in the harbour. That is perhaps the most striking moment.
1st May: The grand procession begins at 10 am, in Stampace district, Cagliari. At noon the procession sets out through the City centre, stops in front of the City Hall and proceeds with a series of stopovers to Sarroch, where it stops for the night.
2nd May: The procession proceeds to Nora(Pula), place of the martyrdom.
3rd May: Saint Efisio advances on the road reaching the ruins of the Roman city of Nora, and then returns back to Pula.
4th May: The procession leaves for Cagliari at 8 am and reaches the city at about 10.30 pm.
On the 2nd of May around 8:00 p.m. the traccas carrying Saint Efisio stops in front of the Lantana Resort. The street will have been previously carpeted with colorful and fragrant ramadura picked up in the surrounding countryside. The procession includes the local religious confraternity, the guards on horses and the pilgrims, praying in Latin and Italian all along the way.
During this stop the Guests of the Lantana Resort may join the devoted in their prayers and are welcome to offer flowers and eventually kiss or caress the statue of the Saint in the wood and glass shrine opened to give this exceptional opportunity.
For more information about the Feast of Saint Efisio and its programme download the pdf brochure.
First image photocredits: Gianni Careddu, available under Creative Commons.