Among myths and legends is written the history of Naro, a small hidden gem of Sicilian baroque, set atop» hill, it overlooks the eastern valley of Agrigento until it glimpses the sea. Here, after wandering Sicily, hiding in ancient necropolis and in the many volcanic caves scattered around the Island, lived the hermit monk, revered as a thaumaturge saint: San Calogero.
VIVA DIU E SAN CALÒ
The thaumaturge saints’life is quite fascinating, he lived in solitary places and caves, became places of worship, visited by many faithful, who come from all parts of Sicily to ask the Saint for a grace. The saint’s celebration is held in mid-June, from the early hours of the day, the crypt in the church erected by incorporating the cave where, according to legend, San Calogero lived, becomes a destination for thousands of pilgrims, sometimes even from neighboring towns, it is filled with faithfuls’ offerings, asking of the graces, of which the Saint was prodigal, during the time he lived in the city of Naro.Food accompanies the rituality of this celebration , a poor food that could be known and cooked by all the people: “pasta scallata” , only pasta, water, salt (and cacio cheese) “The maccarruna of San Calo” have to be eaten togheter, and in the past, Religiously by hands.
Several, as a sign of thanksgiving for grace received, or for those to ask, bring special ex-votos: large loaves of bread made to reproduce the figure of a child or some part of the body such as an arm, a hand or a lee, depending on the vow made. The loaves, once blessed, are divided in half: one part is taken away by the devotee, who then provides for distribution to the family and friends; the other is broken up and distributed to all those present, who jostle for each portion because eating a piece of the blessed bread means securing divine protection for the whole year to come. On June 18, the actual day of the procession, San Calogero, emerges triumphantly from the church that bears his name, greeted by the songs and celebrations of his people.
He is placed on a large wooden sleigh called a straula or “wagon of miracles” a peculiar wagon without wheels similar to those used in the past, in the fields to carry the harvest. He’s dragged by the faithful with a rope, tied at two ends of the sleish and more than 100 meters long, from the Sanctuary of St. Calogero the statue walks throush the Gothic and Baroque beauty of the town, until he reaches the magnificent Mother Church, built with the same tuff as the majestic Temples of Aerizento. The whole people of Naro carry the statue, men, women, children and the elderly, many of them to fulfill a vow made to the saint, make the processional walk barefoot. They say is not people who carry the saint but actually is San Calogero carring all the faithfull. All the devoted try to touch and kiss the simulacrum, take sacred images, and hand the men on the straula handkerchiefs, which then, once rubbed on the statue, they ta keep carefully , cause after this rite they gain apotropaic power.
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Life is a journey and those who travel live twice. Omar Khayyam.