St Agatha was born in Catania between the years 229 and 235.
She was a young with noble family who wanted to consecrate herself to God despite the persecutions against Christians.
Around the years 250-251 the proconsul Quinziano fell in love with this young girl and ordered her to repudiate his faith.
Having Agata firmly refused, she was entrusted with the custody of corrupt and vulgar people who pressured her to submit to Quinziano's attentions.
But she remained firm in her faith, so she was tried and imprisoned and tortured atrociously, also suffering from the eradication of the breasts.
Tradition tells that Agatha would have been healed by St Peter's, appearing in her dream.
After suffering further torture, she was finally subjected to the torment of burning coals.
The latter torture led her to death, which occurred the following night in prison.
It was February 5 of the year 251.
Agatha is venerated both by the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, and her name appears in the Martyrology since ancient times.
In 1040 the Byzantine general Giorgio Maniace stole the relics of Agatha and took them to Constantinople, where they remained for 86 years, until two soldiers of the Byzantine army brought them back to his hometown.
The relics were returned to the Bishop of Catania Maurizio in the Castle of Aci, and from there they arrived in Catania on 17 August 1126, with great joy of the people of Catania.
Since then Catania celebrates its patron saint, both on the memorial of 5 February, with a party that lasts three days, mixed between devotion and folklore, and among the most big in the world by turnout; and on 17 August, in memory of the return of the relics in his homeland.
The remains of St.Agatha are in part in a precious bust made in 1376 by Giovanni di Bartolo, and partly in a silver reliquary by Vincenzo Archifel.
Over the centuries the relics have received numerous precious gifts that now make up a priceless treasure; among the benefactors we can distinguish Richard the Lionheart, who donated a gold crown, viceroy Ferdinando Acugna, Queen Margherita di Savoia and Vincenzo Bellini.
The reliquaries during the festivity are carried through the streets of Catania by the devotees, in white robes, through two big long cords.
The procession is preceded by the "Candelore"; these are majestic and heavy artistically decorated devotional candles, some dating back to the 18th century, which are carried on the shoulders by the devotees.
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