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Thread: Sardinian religious traditions and typical Saints

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    Default Sardinian religious traditions and typical Saints

    S'Ardia de Santu Costantine (The Guard of Saint Constantine)

    S'Ardia de Santu Costantine or de Santu Costantinu, often abbreviated in Santu Antine or Santu Antinu, is a traditional equestrial manifestation held every 6-7 July in the village of Sèdilo in central Sardinia. To the eyes of a stranger the Ardia may look like an horse race, but it's not a race at all, it's a religious vow made by the partecipants who asked a grace from Saint Constantine, in exchange they vowed to run the Ardia in honor of Saint Constantine. The Ardia it's a stylized representation of the battle of Ponte Milvius, where Constantine defeated his enemy Maxentius. The riders run at fool speed around Saint Constantine church, three times clockwise, three times counterclockwise, in a ritual similar to that of the Byzantine army (when an Emperor died his coffin was exposed in the public square, and the imperial army gave him the last goodbye walking three times clockwise, three times counterclockwise around the coffin).

    In the Ardia there are three groups of riders, the first composed by Saint Constantine and his two lieutenants named Prima Bandela or Pandela (First Banner), Segunda Bandela (Second Banner), Terza Bandela (Third Banner); the second group of riders is composed by "Sas iscortas" (The Escorts) which have the task to protect the Emperor and his lieutenants from the assault of the third group named "Sos àteros" (the others), who represent the riders of the enemy Maxentius.

    Facts :


    • The cult of Saint Constantine is typical of the Orthodox Church, Constantine itself is not considered Saint by Catholic Church, instead is venerated in Sardinia because Sardinian church was Orthodox until the end of XIIth century, and many Byzantine traditions and Saints are still present and venerated in actual Sardinian church.



    • The culf of Saint Constantine is documented in central Sardinia since VIth century A.D. ; in that area there were the main Roman-Byzantine military strongholds on the island, the cult may have been brought there by Byzantine soldiers.



    • Only people from the village of Sèdilo can partecipate to the Ardia; to partecipate you have to sign in a log kept by the village priest; and since the list is very very long you could also wait for your turn even 30 years.



    • Every year about 10-15.000 people from every corner of Sardinia go to Sèdilo for the Ardia

























    Last edited by Mens-Sarda; 06-26-2017 at 11:12 AM.
    Non Auro, Sed Ferro, Recuperanda Est Patria (Not by Gold, But by Iron, Is the Nation to be Recovered) - Marcus Furius Camillus (Roman General)

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    The most venerated Christian Saints of Sardinia are typical only of Sardinia, they were or Sardinians or they lived and died in Sardinia during the Roman age, such is also the case of the most beloved Saint of our island "Santu Éfis" (in Italian "Sant'Efisio").

    "Santu Éfis" (Saint Ephisius of Antiochia) lived between the end of the IIIrd and the beginning of the IVth century A.D. he was born in Aelia Capitolina, the Roman colony within Jerusalem from an aristocratic family, his mother Alexandra introduced him to the court of Antiochia were he knew the Emperor Diocletianus who took him under his protection, Ephisius enlisted in the Praetorian guard, he became official and was sent to Italy for the Emperor's campaign against Christians, considered enemies of the State and of the Roman law. When he was travelling to Naples he was unhorsed by a sudden flash of light, and he heard a voice who said him "I am Christ, he who you are persecuting". And a cross remained imprinted on his right hand.
    After this event he decided to convert to Christianity; then he was sent to Sardinia to fight the Ilienses one of the free Nuragic tribes who lived on the mountains of Barbaria (actual Barbagia). Arrived in Sardinia Ephisius was first sent to the military command of Tharros, then to Nora and finally to Caralis. During his service he also started to spread the Gospel among Sardinian people, even if it was against the Imperial law, gaining their respect and a great number of followers; he even wrote to the Emperor Diocletianus inviting him to abandon the false gods and to convert to Christianity. For this reason he was summoned by Julius the governor of Sardinia who said him to stay at his place, but Ephisius firmly refused to abandon his faith forcing the governor to arrest him, imprisoning him in a cell obtained from a cave, where he was flagellated, beaten, fleshed, and burnt with embers.
    However not a single torture, nor the intervention of his mother called by the imperial court managed to change his mind, the new governor Flavianus ordered that he was burnt alive, but the flames of the stake turned against his executioners; then Flavianus ordered that he was beheaded by sword, but far away from Caralis, because he feared a rebellion of the city where Ephisius was a popular and beloved figure. So he was brought to a beach near the city of Nora, 37km south of Caralis where he was beheaded the 15 of January of 303 A.D.

    Facts :


    • The culf of Saint Ephisius is very heart-felt in the southern half of Sardinia



    • The name Efisio is the stereotypical name of southern Sardinian men; like in Napoli where there are thousands of Gennaro, in south Sardinia there are thousands of Efisio



    • In 1656 the city of Cagliari was decimated by Black Plague, the survivors prayed Saint Ephisius for help, and the plague disappeared, since 1656 every 1st of May an impressive procession brings the Saint in pilgrimage from his church in the old town of Cagliari across the boulevards of the city. Thousands people from every corner of Sardinia wearing traditional Sardinian costumes accompany the Saint during the procession in the streets Cagliari, while hundred thousands of people and tourists watch from both sides. When the Saint leaves the city he's accompanied by a littler group of faithful (on foot) who bring him to the beach of Nora where he was killed in 303 A.D. Escorted by a unit of red dressed militiamen armed with sabres and rifles that in the past centuries protected the procession from the assaults of the Saracen pirates that plagued the southern coasts of Sardinia.




    • During WWII the city of Cagliari was bombarded and almost totally destroyed by Allies, the inhabitants were thinking to abandon the city to rebuild it in some other place, a group of courageous faithful the 1st of May 1943 brought the Saint in procession even under the bombs, this gave courage to its surviving inhabitants, so the city was not abandoned and rebuilt in its place.



    • The procession of Saint Ephisius is the greatest Christian procession of the Mediterranean region for the huge number of people who attend to the procession and for the 67km of total lenght, from Cagliari to Nora and back to Cagliari in 3 days.


    Pictures :



















    Saint Ephisius leaving his church in Cagliari


    Traditional Costumes


    Saint Ephisius militia












    Last edited by Mens-Sarda; 07-08-2017 at 02:01 PM.
    Non Auro, Sed Ferro, Recuperanda Est Patria (Not by Gold, But by Iron, Is the Nation to be Recovered) - Marcus Furius Camillus (Roman General)

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    Default The Bonfires of Saint Anthony

    In the night between the 16 and 17 January, in the whole island, but especially in the inland area, or in centers strongly conservative of language and traditions, in each of these villages, during that night burns a huge bonfire in honor of Sant'Antoni de su Fogu (St. Anthony the Abbot).

    In the Island the worship of this saint is very old. The myth that revolves around St. Anthony has its roots in the mists of time, when, by adhering to the legend, the saint descended into hell defying the demons, to steal a spark glowing, to bring it on the earth and to give it the fire to humanity.

    It is easy to see how the fire in honor of Saint Anthony, (whose translation in the Sardinian language varies from place to place: su fogulone, su foghidoni, su fogu, sos focos, sas frascas su fogadoni, to mention some of these) and an event charged of meaning and it represents, not only for the legendary aspects already seen, but also about those rituals, sacred, folk and not least for the fact that performs an important function of socialization and aggregation, a very significant moment of great charm of the Sardinian tradition.

    The fire starting represented, in this context, a prayer time, reflection, for hoping and praying the grace of the Saint for of a good harvest.
    Even today, during the holiday, although it is a bit abandoned, in its entirety, the request for the intercession of St. Anthony in purely agro-pastoral optics, letting the ritual take over the connotations of a purely aesthetic and traditional event, the bonfire lighting is the most mystical and intense moment.

    The festival involves the population already a few weeks before, when several groups of children are responsible for gathering wood.
    The harvested wood is piled up in the evening of Saint Anthony's day in order to form a sort of pyramid.

    At twilight, the whole village gathers in the points where the piles of wood are set up and, after the blessing of the pastor, attends the ignition of the fire. In some places a long propitiatory dance around the fire accompanies the moment in which the flames rise high.
    From that moment until late in the night will be a succession of balls, dances, games, songs, in which music and entertainments are not missed and where wine and delicious desserts are offered.

    In addition to the fire, also the smoke seems to have a divinatory meaning rising high into the night, over the flames; it is said that looking his emission, its rise and get lost in the sky you can see omens and premonitions.
    In the villages of Barbagia is this recurrence that starts the Carnival. In many villages of the inland, in fact, traditional Sardinian masks make their first appearance, (sa prima essia) the first appearance, and they entertain the community with traditional balls and rhythmic dances typical of the culture of the Barbagian carnival.

    In this context, as often happens, it is impossible to separate the sacred from the profane, and here more than ever, it is clear the classic combination of Christian devotion and ancient pagan traditions.
    However, it is not wrong to believe that this festival can be traced back to ancient Greece and even to refer precisely to the myth of Prometheus, mythological figure, a symbol of rebellion, that, for the Greeks, gave the gift of fire to all humanity.
    It seems clear, on the basis of this, the Christianization of a cult much more archaic.


    There are many aspects related to this pagan ritual which materializes the death and rebirth of a God, of the nature, the seasons, when the cyclical flow of life softens and increases what finds its symbol in the fire, element from a strong symbolic value, emblem a light that embodies the transition from the cold of winter to the warmth of spring, symbolically represented in the flames that heat the cold night.




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    That horse stuff is from the Moors

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wadaad View Post
    That horse stuff is from the Moors
    what?
    Probably you are confusing with another place. We don't need of the moors (who have never settled here in the course of history) to be able to ride a horse, because we do it since the prehistoric times.




    Bronze statuette of an acher riding a horse found in Sardinia and dated 3800 years ago

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