San Giorgio (St. George) is considered the Patron of the city of Ragusa since a very long time.
In fact, the first church dedicated to the Saint already existed in 1120 and it included 3 naves with 14 lateral pillars each and 12 additional altars (excluding the main one). A beautiful bell tower, designed by Antonino di Marco, a Ragusa-native architect, completed the works in 1550. Sadly, the only part that we can see today from this church is the enchanting main portal, located next to the Giardino Ibleo park. You would probably wonder why is that and that is why we need to bring you back to the 1693, year of a massive earthquake that hit the Val di Noto, including the original city or Ragusa, today called Ragusa Ibla.
After the earthquake, the citizens of that time decided to build a new part of the city, moving to what we now call “Ragusa Superiore“ and build the major Cathedral of Ragusa of St. John. This was a difficult time, in which a lot of families had to decide or were forced, due to various reasons, to move to the new part of the city. However, in 1738, Rosario Gagliardi, famous baroque architect of Noto took the ownership of the building project for the new Cathedral of St. George in Ragusa Ibla.
The Cathedral of St. George has indeed become the “home” of the Saint and the spiritual one of the faithfuls. This is the starting and the ending point of the famous celebrations of St. George that take place on the last Sunday of May and not on the 23rd, the original calendar day dedicated to the Saint. The celebrations last three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first two days are days of spiritual preparation for the devoted people and you could assist to different kind of religious parades and unique celebrations always in Ragusa Ibla. Sunday is always the most important day and everything starts very early with numerous religion Masses, until “l’uscita” (namely the start of the religious parade, where the statue is taken around Ragusa Ibla). The highlight of the day and one of the most unique and original celebration is the moment in which a group of devoted and followers of St. George carry him on their shoulders (!!) from the Giardini Iblei to the Cathedral, making the statue dance in order to celebrate the Saint and shouting “tutti Truonu” (meaning that he is the Patron of the city). The evening celebrations is of course enriched with fireworks, music, shows and much more.
Although not the only event in Sicily where you will find this kind of celebrations, but surely one of the highlight of the year in the Ragusa Shire. This event is a real chance for you to really feel and experience the devotion, the heart and the passion of the Sicilians.
To know more about the celebrations, click here and go to the dedicated website.
Enjoy the gallery of the pictures taken by our young photographer Mirko Emmolo.