This weekend, especially on May 24 and 25, I wish I was in Augusta. My native town, dressed in all the shades of spring, and its scents comes together to celebrate San Domenico, Patron Saint of our city. Music fills the streets, church bells ring loud and clear, they announce “la festa”. Celebration and spring are in the air.
Domenico was born in 1170 in Calaruega, Northern Spain. He studied theology from the age of 15 and had already completed his studies by the age of 24 entering priesthood. After ten years of missionary work in France and Denmark and numerous visits to Rome, in 1216 the Dominican Order was approved and officialized by Pope Onorio III. Domenico died in Bologna in 1221.
He is known and remembered by Augustani for having appeared miraculously on May 24 to save the city from the attacks of the Turks. In my hometown, today, we still have a popular beach destination named “La Balata dei Turchi” (The Bay of Turks) but it is believed that the attack occurred in the ancient part of the city, in the area known as Terravecchia. He is always portrayed as a “Warrior Saint,” on a horse, holding his sword, merely menacing the enemy rather than attacking. He was known and lauded for his strong faith, devotion to God, his wisdom and openess to community service.
The cult and devotion for San Domenico is found inherently in all Augustani in Augusta and across the world. Many return to Augusta this time of the year to partake in this most religious and celebratory feast. A number of historical and religious representations are re-enacted and recreated throughout the city which culminate with the fireworks of San Domenico. Religious celebrations such as the Festa di San Domenico in Augusta – highlight one of the most essential of Sicilian values: devotion and faith. For an island as breathtaking and mesmerizing as La Bella Sicilia, that always coexisted with the menace of devastating earthquakes and other natural calamities, the here and now, those around us, family, and faith remain the only feasable anchors and motivational force for a life lived in all its fullness, depth and significance.
Una preghiera ed un pensiero a San Domenico e a tutti i miei amici Augustani in Sicilia e nel mondo! A prayer and a thought to San Domenico and to all my Augustani friends in Sicily and in the world!