Feast of Sant'Antonio Abate

| Fri, 01/17/2014 - 03:00
Feast of Sant'Antonio Abate

On 17 January, several Italian towns celebrate the Festa di Sant'Antonio Abate or Feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot, also known as Saint Anthony the Great. Although he is often overshadowed by similarly named Saint Anthony of Padua, this Egyptian saint is particularly important throughout southern Italy, and is the patron saint of butchers, domestic animals, basketmakers, and gravediggers; he also protects against skin diseases, especially shingles known as "Fuoco di Sant'Antonio" (Fire of Saint Anthony) in Italy.

Saint Anthony the Abbot was a hermit who renounced his worldly possessions to follow Jesus and performed miracles throughout his life. He is considered the first to live a truly monastic lifestyle and was repeatedly tempted by the devil, persevering through prayer. This aspect of the saint's life is often portrayed in images of him with the devil at his feet.

His feast day is celebrated with processions, music, and especially bonfires as one legend claims that he went to hell to steal the devil's fire, and indeed, while he distracted the devil, his piglet ran in and stole a firebrand to take back to humans on Earth.

The following are some examples of Sant'Antonio Abate celebrations; the first video is in Novoli in the province of Lecce (Puglia) and the rest are in Macerata Campania in the province of Caserta (Campania):

I find the music in these especially incredible. Have you ever celebrated Sant'Antonio Abate?