Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Alcara li Fusi

So, I was back on the bus again. This time we headed to Alcara li Fusi. This town is celebrating it's Patron Saint Nicolò Politi's 500th year of sainthood. It goes on for a full year. It was made even more special as Alcara li Fusi is where the local priest, Padre Luigi was born. The town folks and Padre Luigi's family were most welcoming. They have a great love for this man.

We started walking thru the town starting at the statue of St Nicolò and ending up at the church which holds some of his remains. Along the way we had several on lookers from the overhead balconies and some of the towns folks joined us at the church.

The local priest gave an overview of St Nicolò Politi's life and the events of this 500th Anno Giubilare. It is a year long celebration of his sainthood 1507/2007.

Nicolò was born in 1117, of noble parents. He was their only child, born to them in their later years. He was given the best of education, both cultural and spiritual. While he was still young his father found him a future wife and even prepared a wedding for them. Nicolò escaped his town and his wedding and took up a life of solitude in the mountains of Etna. Later, he traveled to Alcara li Fusi and made his home in a cave for over 30 years. He lived a life of solitude and prayer contemplating on the mystery of God.

In 1507 the Pope of that time gave permission for his body to be transferred to the Chiesa Madre di Alcari. However in the 1920's the citizens of Adrano petitioned the government to have his remains taken to his birth town. We were told that militia came to the town of Alcara li Fusi and forced the people to remain inside their homes while Nicolò's head was taken and carried to Adrano where it still remains. This means that the torso remains of St Nicolò is in Alcara li Fusi but his skull is in Adrano.

There is also a Museum of Sacred Art in this town. It at one time was a convent for females. Now it has been converted to a religious showing of gold and silver art pieces. It includes a library of hand written documents dating back to the 1500's. The story of St Nicolò is also presented in this museum. On the wall were several documents showing tributes and donations made by Sicilians who emigrated from Alcara Li Fusi to Cleveland, Ohio in the USA.

We headed just before dusk, to the cave where St Nicolò Politi spent over 30 years of his life. The roads were narrow and I was amazed at the skill of our bus driver to maneuver these streets.

We arrived at the grotto and you can get a sense of the time of day from the following two photos which were taken ten minutes apart.

I would imagine these hills would be a good place to hide out from the law. Perhaps Salvatore Giuliano hid out here???

The cave was lit up with some festive lights which gave one person in our group to mention how religion was becoming a big business. Well, what isn't these days. Padre Luigi gave a short sermon here and after taking a group picture we headed back down the narrow streets and twisting mountains.. towards home.


Geggie said...

What a perfect trip! Thanks for sharing. I was almost like being there.

Anonymous said...

This is precisely why I need to visit soon -- this is what I want to soak up. Little towns, saints, grottos and hills and woman standing on balconies, hands in prayer.

Lovely Sharon, thank you for making my heart ache.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

What an amazing story and wonderful photos, as always. Poor man - his head in one place and his body in another!

Anonymous said...

Do you ever visit any place that does not have a religious overtone?

There seem to be an abundance of priests out there, on the loose, so to speak.

Sharon said...

Priests on the loose! That is a debatable comment. I think a few of them are taken.

The olive oil place did not even have a picture of the ever present Padre Pio. Does that count?
(I loved these comments from anonymous)

wai..you have to make plans!

Welshcakes lim...I think they are spreading the wealth.

geggie....I saved you a few bucks for the flight. I think you go to good places as well. I am enjoying them thru you.

Mary Jane (Cosari) Miller said...

Thank you so much the description of your trip to Alcara li Fusi. I just discovered that my grandfather emigrated from there in 1909 to Cleveland. I suspect that those "tributes and donations made by Sicilians who emigrated from Alcara Li Fusi to Cleveland, Ohio in the USA" were from some of my relatives. I have to get there!!

Sharon said...

I have more pics...just leave your email address if you are interested. I will delete it after I use it.555