Sant’Efisio - AD ATTRUS ANNUS
Photo exhibition of Luigi Corda
“On the 1st of May ever since 1657 the city of Cagliari has hosted the festival of Sant’Efisio (Ephysius of Sardinia): an extraordinary gathering of islanders through which is fulfilled an ancient vow made by the Municipality to its patron saint”, so begins the book by Antonello Angioni dedicated to the saint, and so the Sant’Efisio celebration, the largest festival in Europe, has been held for 360 years, year after year, almost without interruption.
The worshipping of the saint has ancient roots and was solemnised in 1652, when the Municipality of the city of Cagliari asked for his intercession to save the people from a plague epidemic. As a sign of gratitude for being saved from the tragedy, the city marks its devotion with a solemn procession up to the small church of Nora, the place where the saint was beheaded and martyred. There are many features that make this festival one-of-a-kind: the great number of people involved, the length of the procession, the sumptuousness and sheer number of the traditional costumes involved.
The festival of Saint Efisio in fact is much more than a long parade of “minor gures” who precede the solemn journey of the saint to the place of his martyrdom in Nora. Behind a folk facade there is a di erent, much more profound side, that you can only discover by participating actively in the vast world that revolves around the worshipping of the martyr, walking for tens of kilometres, meeting people and listening to stories, old and new. Without doubt, one of the most extraordinary aspects is the non-uniformity of his followers, no distinction of social class, devotees, who follow the simulacrum in silence.
There are those who welcome people in, those who try to help out the arriving regal guests and those who wait leaning on a barrier for hours, waiting for the slow but fast cart. There are also those who take a chair from their home to be more comfortable and those who got stuck in tra c and can do nothing more than let themselves get truly involved in the moment.