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by Werner Mansholt
The festival of Sant' Agata is the most important religious festival to take place in the city of Catania in Sicily. It is celebrated in honor of the patron saint of the city, and is one of the most biggest Catholic religious holidays, because of the sheer number of people it involves and attracts. Every year from 3rd to 6th Febuary, more than a million faithfuls arrive in Catania to attend the processions and prayer that take place arounf the clock.The young Agata was part of the Christian minority who lived in Sicily during the 3rd century. The Roman governor wanted her for himself, but Agata refused. She was persecuted and martyred by cutting of her breast until she was eventually put to death on Febuary 5th.According to some chronicles after an eruption of the Enta volcano in the 12th century the lava flow stopped just at the church where the faithful were in prayer for the celebration of the martyrdom of St.Agata.This photo series portrays the attendees and observers of this festival during the day and night.