feast of sant'efisio cagliari

Feast of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari: a journey into the heart of the Sardinian tradition

Feast of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari: an ancient rite with an unchanged charm

The Feast of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari is one of the most important processions in Sardinia. It takes place every year between the 1st and the 4th of May.

“Faithful to the promise, united in tradition” is the slogan of the 366th Feast of Sant’Efisio in Cagliari. This edition marks the return of live events after two subdued years cause by the bans and restrictions for the pandemic.

This year it will be a big celebration, still in compliance with the anti-coronavirus measures. As the mayor Paolo Truzzu explained during the presentation of the event: “Out of respect for everyone, we return to the past, but in the name of sobriety. The goal is to give a national and international profile to the Feast, which is an extraordinary kaleidoscope of scents, colors, faith and tradition of our city and Sardinia“.

The Feast of Sant’Efisio is an aggregation moment that has kept its charm since 1656. That year the municipal administration made a perpetual vow to the Saint, promising an annual procession in his honor. The procession goes from Stampace district to Nora, the town where Efisio suffered martyrdom.

Legend has it that in the second half of the 1600s a terrible plague struck Casteddu (the Sardinian name of Cagliari). It killed about 10,000 inhabitants.
Giovanni Spano, one of the greatest and most important scholars in the Sardinian history, says that, when the city seemed to have lost all hope, Sant’Efisio appeared to the viceroy count of Lemos. He asked for the vote of the May 1st procession to free the island from the plague. The Cagliari councilors tied the city to the Perpetual Vow and then abundant rains made the plague disappear. To celebrate and thank the holy martyr, they chose the month of May,  symbol of nature’s regeneration.

That of Sant’Efisio is not only one of the most important celebration in Sardinia, together with the Barefoot Run. It is also one of the longest walking processions in Europe: about 80 kilometers long. And it is full of history, folklore and devotion, songs, traccas, traditional costumes, goccius and launeddas.

The procession bring the statue of the saint from Cagliari to Pula passing through Capoterra, Sarroch and Villa San Pietro. Subsequently, from Pula the procession reaches Nora where there is the ancient church that takes the Saint’s name. After two days of prayers, the procession with the 18th-century simulacrum by the Sardinian sculptor Giuseppe Antonio Lonis, leaves for Cagliari.

The procession and collateral events of the Feast of Sant’Efisio Cagliari 2022

The presentation of the program for the feast of Sant’Efisio 2022 took place on April 22nd at the Town Hall in via Roma 145.

The procession on Sunday May 1st sees the participation of 92 local communities. 81 are associations of devotees, 30 of knights in traditional dress. In addition, 4 choirs, 56 militiamen, 5 knights of the Italian Army Military Command, 18 tracas with 270 devotees on board, and another 2,500 on foot.

Along the way, between the passage of the knights and the arrival of the Saint, for the first time attendee can enjoy religious songs by four “a Cuncordu”choirs. This is the most traditional form of four-part singing in Sardinia that usually accompanies liturgical and paraliturgical celebrations. In addition, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele there will be Su Cuncordu Sas Enas of Bortigali. In Piazza Del Carmine the chants “a tragiu” by the Bosa Choir. While in Largo Carlo Felice those of Cuncordu di Orosei. Finally, in via Roma there will be Su Cuncordu and su Rosariu di Santulussurgiu.

There are also several collateral initiatives that will animate the city starting from Saturday April 30th. One is the musical show by Ambra Pintore, “Non fermiamo la tradizione” at 9 PM in Piazza Del Carmine. It includes dialogues in music, poetry and popular music, from tenor singing to electronic music.

On Sunday May 1st, at 6 PM in piazza Del Carmine, people can attend the awarding of the Toson d’Oro di Sant’Efisio prize. Then, “Il ballo dell’Isola in Festa” will take place. It includes over 25 folklore groups, the participation of the launeddas master Luigi Lai and the Logudorese chants of Emanuele Bazzoni. But also the tenors Remundu ‘e Locu from Bitti, Murales from Orgosolo and San Gavino from Oniferi.

On Wednesday May 4th, while waiting for the Saint returning from Pula, from 6 PM seven polyphonic choirs from the Metropolitan City and Southern Sardinia will give life to an intense concert of sacred songs. The concert will take place in the courtyard of honor of Palazzo Bacaredda. At the end, at about 8:30 PM, all the choral ensembles will reach the main streets to greet the passage of the Martyr singing the gocius songs and other religious songs.

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