Procession of Sant’Efisio of 1st May in Cagliari

If you want to come to holydays in Sardinia in May, please have a look to our last minute offers for May.

When you come to Sardinia in the first of May you can not miss the traditional procession of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari, a spectacle of flowers, songs, colors and jewels of the ancient Sardinian tradition.

The typical costume of Orgosolo in the procession of Sant'Efisio, with its dominant colors of green and red, preserves in the embroideries of the aprons very old themes, also present in the Neolithic menhirs.

Procession of Sant’Efisio, the typical costume of Orgosolo in the photography of Elisabetta Exana

Sant’Efisio was a Roman soldier, originally from Elia (Antioch) in Asia Minor who, in charge of persecuting Christians in Sardinia, preferred martyrdom after converting to Christianity.

The reliquary of Sant'Efisio is carried from the Stampace church in Cagliari to the church of Nora, the place of the martyrdom of the saint.

The reliquary of Saint Efisio. Photography by Elisabetta Exana

In 1656 the Viceroy of Sardinia, after dreaming of the saint, made perpetual vow to organize a procession every year if he could liberate the city from the plague. The celebration was probably much older, since the date coincides with that of the cults of fecundity celebrated all over Europe even before Christianity, see Belthane in Ireland, Walpurgi in Germany, Las Mayas in Spain.

Each village has its traditional costume with particular colors and jewels. Photo by Elisabetta Exana

The procession of Sant’Efisio is the longest in Europe, it lasts for 4 days at a distance of 65 km from the Cagliari church of Stampace, to that of Nora, where the saint was martyred, and return. It is one of the oldest processions of Sardinia, since that takes place every year since 1656. It was made even in 1943, in the rubble of the bombs, with the statues of the saint carried on that occasion on a milk truck.

The ambience of the procession is masterfully depicted in the beautiful photos of Elisabetta Exana and in the book “The River of Dreams” by Maria Teresa Petrini, of which I quote a passage: “A great bells sound warned that the saint left the church, everybody took position: knights, wagons and walkers, dressed in costume, according to an order established, the parade was opened by the representation of the host city, the city of Cagliari and then the cities and villages of all the island, each preceded by two children in costume holding a carpet with the name of the village.

“sa ramadura” when women prepare a real petal carpet for the passage of the saint. Photo by Elisabetta Exana

They walked over “sa ramadura”, a flower petal carpet, thousands of roses flushed in all colors. A delicate and intense scent rose from the ground, enveloping the people who were immersed in a spirituality exhaling from the saint’s reliquary. The oxen slowly took the rhythm and carried the saint with a dignified calm, they seemed aware of their task. Colored ribbons with dominance of red, ornamenting horns, twinkling and dancing in the wind, banners of prayer and joy forever “.

If you want to come to Sardinia in May, please have a look to our last minute offers for May


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Web: David Oliveras