|The town of Villafranca Sicula
Tourism in Villafranca Sicula
Our Lady of Myrtle is the patroness of Villafranca and also of two near villages, Burgio and Lucca Sicula.
According to the legend a friar was carrying two images of Madonna to his convent when he realized that he had lost one. Come back he found the picture among some shrubs of myrtle, he picked up and brought it to the monastery.
The day after the small image of Our Lady was again disappeared; it was found by the friar again among the same myrtles where it has been found the day before it.
Photo © Grazia Renna
It was so that inhabitants of the three villages (Villafranca, Burgio and Lucca Sicula), placed not far from the place of finding of the sacre image, believed it was the place chosen by Madonna where the Sanctuary would have to be built.
The Feast of Our Lady of Myrtle is celebrated in Villafranca in August on the first sunday and take part to it also two quarters divided into devouts of St. John and of St. Michael Archangel.
According to the tradition the day before the feast, processions of believers with their own Saints go from respective churches to the Cathedral to make their respectful regards to Our Lady.
Procession must last a fixed severe time, four hours, during which people are entusiast and give themselves up to hurrah, while with music starts the original scene of the "riattiati": statues of the Saints are made turn while believers make dance of exultation.
Photo © Grazia Renna
Sunday, the day of the feast, begins with firework games and when they end, processions again pass: in an atmosphere of popular entusiasm suddenly appears the statue of Our Lady.
Then in an atmosphere of enchantement a deep silence falls over the village. St. John is set on the right and the Archangel on the left, while some chosen believers support a baldachin over Our Lady which passes among people.
Finally the statues of Saints after having taken the Virgin Mary her church, come back to their sanctuaries. The scene is unique: processions go on running in the evening lighted by torches.