Aidone is a town in the center of Sicily. It is near the ancient city of Morgantina, and houses the statue of Venus that the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu gave back to Italy.

Aidone is renowned for the pilgrimage that takes place every year on May 1 from nearby towns and villages to the sanctuary of St. Philip the apostle. It can be considered a small Santiago de Compostela, for pilgrims travel on foot, covering long distances (my hometown of Enna is about forty kilometers away).

My grandmother, who was a fervent catholic, told me that, after walking all night, she climbed the stairs to the Sanctuary of St. Philip on her knees. She also told me that some people went up the steps licking them with their tongues.

On this day, it is customary to buy some ribbons, called zagaredde in Sicilian, and rub them on the statue. This way the ribbons are charged with divine energy.

As a child, I used to wear a ribbon tied to my arm, which my grandmother gave me when she returned from the pilgrimage to St. Philip.

Is the feast of St. Philip based on superstition? Who knows, sometimes simpletons see reality better than scholars do.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

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