A DEVOTIONAL SICILIAN CAKE: I CUDDUREDDI

Visiting Enna without seeing the Sanctuary of Papardura is like visiting Palermo without seeing Monreale. It is a unique place. No tour guide can skip it.

On September 13 and 14, there is a special festival. Both gates to the sanctuary are open and the faithful make special devotional cakes called cuddureddi. They are made of water and flower and have a special shape, for they look like intertwined rings. They are also hard to eat.

The cuddureddi date back to Demeter’s time. Once people decorated them with poppy seeds. These days they are plain, for the poppy was too reminiscent of the pagan goddess Demeter to whom it was sacred.

Inside the church, above the altar, is the holy image of Jesus on the Calvary, imprinted on the rock. Both the altar and the church are a continuation of the cave where long ago the holy image was found.

According to a historian from Enna, called Father Giovanni, in the year 1659 Jesus appeared to a Franciscan nun and asked her to clean a cave in Papardura because there was his image on the rock. The cave was cleaned and actually, the image of Jesus appeared.

Apart from its sacredness, the place deserves to be visited for its beauty and for the landscape in which it is inserted.

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

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

IMPORTANT DISCOVERY BY THE SCOUTS OF ENNA (SICILY)

The girls and boys of the Enna Scout group Agesci 1 fully deserve to be called Scouts, for they have explored the slopes of Enna from a height of one thousand meters to the bottom of the valley and have brought to light the ancient “Via Sacra” (The Sacred Way), which is the old sacred way that, before Christianity, pilgrims walked to visit the temple of Demeter.

Man has always believed that the Deity lived either in the sky or on top of some mountain. Think of Mount Olympus, for example. It was natural that the temple of Demeter was located in a mountain, in Enna.

Demeter was the goddess of the crops and was invoked to have a good harvest. It is said that during time of famine, even the Senate of Rome used to send a delegation to Enna to propitiate the goddess.

Along the Sacred Way there were sacred shrines and also small cisterns of water for purification rites. This is now visible and can be visited thanks to the Scouts of Enna that had brought to light this archaeological treasure.

I thank Sir Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, because thanks to his initiative, boys and girls can grow up in accordance with the universal principles of love for nature, research, and above all friendship.

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

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE SANCTUARY OF THE HOLY CRUCIFIX OF PAPARDURA IN ENNA (SICILY)

For a place to have the title of “Sanctuary”, it must be surrounded by an air of legend about the discovery of a sacred object or a miracle that happened there, and of course it is necessary that people feel the sacredness of the place and make pilgrimages.

The Sanctuary of Papardura, deserves this title.

It is said that towards the middle of the seventeenth century some peasants who lived in the fields around Enna saw a light on the top of the Papardura cave at night. They set out for the cave but when they arrived, the light disappeared.

It is also said that in the year 1659, a Franciscan nun had the vision of Jesus crucified who asked her to have the cave of Papardura cleaned because there was his effigy inside. The cave was cleaned up and the image found. Then, a church was built in front of the cave.

Miracles took place there, as evidenced by the items that pilgrims left in thanksgiving for the graces they had received.

On 12 September, the day of the feast of the Crucifix of Papardura, the administrators of the sanctuary distribute special sweets, called “Cuddureddi”, to the visitors. They date back to the time of the Goddess Demeter. The only difference is that the “Cuddureddi” are no longer garnished with poppy seeds, a flower that was sacred to Demeter. After all, the religious spirit remains unchanged, from the pagan era to the present day!

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

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE RAPE OF KORE (PERSEPHONE)

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The temples of Demeter and Kore don’t exist anymore. In Enna, the cult of Mary replaced that of Demeter. I can take you to Lake Pergusa. It is not far from downtown Enna. According to myth, Ades, the god of the underworld, came out of one of the caves scattered in the woods which surrounded Lake Pergusa, with his chariot pulled by four black steeds. At the same time Kore was plucking flowers with her mother Demeter and some nymphs by the lakeside to weave them into garlands.

“To allure her, Ades disguised himself as a splendid narcissus. Kore was enchanted by the color and scent of that beautiful flower and walked away from her mother and the nymphs to pick it, but suddenly the narcissus turned into Ades who grabbed Kore, put her on his chariot, and abducted her. Then, Ades lashed his steeds which, as fast as the wind, immediately headed for his underground kingdom.

“Demeter was desperate. She looked for her daughter everywhere without avail. Then, she turned to Zeus, who knew where Kore was kept, but he seemed not to be incline to displease his brother Ades who had got a wife at long last. After Kore became Ades’s wife, she was given a new name, Persephone.

“Demeter was the goddess of agriculture and fertility. As an act of revenge against Zeus she made the vegetation on Earth wither. Things were getting complicated even for Zeus, the king of gods! But, Ades persisted in his refusal to give back Persephone to her mother. However, he couldn’t help complying with Zeus’s wishes, who wanted to break the deadlock between Ades and Demeter.

“Zeus suggested a solution acceptable to both parties. Persephone would stay for six months with her husband Ades in the underground and for six months with her mother Demeter on the earth’s surface. So it happened!

“The myth symbolizes the alternating of the seasons on Earth. In Autumn and Winter, when Persephone is in the underground, vegetation is lifeless, while in Spring and Summer, when Persephone stays with her mother Demeter, plants and trees are flourishing.”

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

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
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

THE CITY OF ENNA (SICILY)

Night view of Enna town in Sicily, Italy

Enna is a small city on a plateau in the center of Sicily. Its founding dates back to time immemorial. It is called the navel of Sicily. It is part of the Erei mountain chain and is located at an altitude of about one thousand meters above sea level. Like all Greek cities, Enna was a city-state with its own government and its own mint. It coined a coin called ennaion.

With Greece Enna shared the same language and the same religion. The main worshiped goddesses were Demeter and her daughter Kore. Nobody knows exactly where the temples of Demeter and Kore stood, but it is certain that the main temple of Demeter in Sicily was that in Enna. Being Demeter the goddess of the crops, she was invoked to have a good harvest. It is said that during time of famine, even the Senate of Rome used to send a delegation to Enna to propitiate Demeter.

The people of Enna buried the dead by digging small rooms in the rock, usually facing south. In the room, painted terracotta vases were placed next to the corpse. Tombs have been excavated with well-preserved skeletons and red- and black-figure vases. Sometimes in the mouth of the skeleton was found a coin. The Greeks believed that to get to the Hades (the kingdom of the dead) souls had to pay a fee of one coin to Charon who ferried the dead across the Acheron, river that divided the world of the living from that of the dead.

Enna has always been a city devoted to religion. When Cicero, the great Roman orator, came to Enna to collect evidence against the governor of Sicily, Verres, who had snatched away gold and statues from the Sicilian temples, he was so surprised by the religiosity of the city of Enna that he had the feeling that its inhabitants were omnes sacerdotes (all priests).

When the Arabs conquered Sicily, they changed the Latin name Henna into Catrum (castle) Hennae (the genitive of Henna) which in the Arabic parlance became Castro Ianni, and then Castrogiovanni in the Italian language. This last appellation lasted until December 6, 1926 when Castrogiovanni was elevated to capital of province and was given back the ancient name of Enna. It essentially just dropped the H, which however is always silent in the Italian language.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

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
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE TOWN OF CALASCIBETTA (SICILY)

Sunset view of Calascibetta village in central Sicily, Italy.
Sunset view of Calascibetta village in central Sicily, Italy.

A short distance from Enna stands the town of Calascibetta. As the crow flies, the distance between the two places is about two kilometers, but the winding road that connects them is about seven kilometers long. They both are located on the summits of two small mountains. While Enna has an average height of 1000 meters, Calascibetta is a bit lower, about 900 meters above sea level.

They have almost the same climate, cool in the summertime and cold in the winter. The fog, which is caused by low clouds, envelops them very often. A valley dotted with olive groves and almond trees lies between the two mountains. It is green for most of the year and golden yellow during the summer months due to the lack of rainfall and the scorching sun.

The geography of the two places is quite different. While Enna stands on a plateau with sheer cliffs, Calascibetta rests on the slope of Mount Xibet.

Both of them have been inhabited since very ancient times as it was evidenced by archaeological findings. But it is believed that the real foundation of Calascibetta took place during the Arab period. As Enna was an impregnable stronghold, the Arabs settled a military camp on Mount Xibet, waiting for the right moment to launch an attack on Enna, which was occupied by the Byzantines. The siege lasted for a long time. While the Arabs remained camped on Mount Xibet, they boosted the tiny town situated there, developing the commerce and agriculture. Furthermore, they built mosques and palaces.

Seen from Calascibetta, Enna appears inaccessible. The steep rocks conceal some paths through which you can walk up to the top of the mountain. It is said that the Arabs were able to break the siege thanks to the help of a traitor banished from Enna, who showed them one of those concealed, dangerous, narrow paths through the rocky slopes, in the nighttime.

A further growth of Calascibetta took place during the Norman period. As the Arabs had done two centuries ago, the Normans also camped in Mount Xibet during their thirty-year siege on Enna, which was an Arab fortress this time.

The Normans built churches, monuments, a castle and the city walls in Calascibetta.

The Aragonese came to Calascibetta after the Normans. King Peter II of Aragon, who became  the king of Sicily, built the Royal Palatine Chapel in 1340. He loved Calascibetta and died in this town in 1342.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

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
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

NAPOLEONE COLAJANNI’S TOMB

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One of the most important things to visit in the cemetery of Enna is the grave of Napoleone Colajanni, a great statesman and also a good writer. He was born in Castrogiovanni on 27 April 1847 and died in Castrogiovanni on 2 September 1921.

Napoleone Colajanni was a clear example of an honest and incorruptible politician. After he was elected to the parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, he unmasked the scandal of the Banca Romana which minted banknotes illegally. The scandal also involved members of the government. Following the precise denunciation of corruption by Napoleone Colajanni, the government was forced to resign. This great son of Enna, was also a professor of statistics at the University of Palermo and an author of books on the mafia and the problems of southern Italy.

I had read a book written by him entitled Nel Regno della Mafia (In the Kingdom of the Mafia). It tells of Emanuele Notarbartolo Marquis of San Giovanni, an eminent noblemen who was stabbed to death while traveling by train in a tunnel on the Messina Palermo railway line. Strangely, he was killed a few days after he had accused of financial improprieties the general manager of the Banco di Sicilia, one of the most important banks in Italy. The book by Napoleone Colajanni is one of the first books on the issue of the Mafia. It denounces the collusion between magistrates, police, politicians, and Mafiosi.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

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
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY HOMETOWN ENNA (SICILY)

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Although Enna is in Sicily, an island with a temperate climate, its weather is quite inclement during the winter. It is windy and above all foggy. The citizen of Enna have nicknamed the fog la paesana (the fellow citizen) for it envelops the city like a cloak quite often. Seen from below, the fog looks like a wide hat on the head of the plateau. Actually, the fog is nothing but low clouds. Once, the snow used to fall on the city, but these days, due to global warming, it has become more and more rare.
The plateau is not completely flat. There are three a bit elevated areas that gently slope down to the center of the city. Seen from above, the area looks like a triangle. On one tip is an old castle, called the Castle of Lombardy, which is still accessible even though a few towers have fallen into ruin. On the other tip, is the Franciscan monastery of Capuchin of Montesalvo, and on the third tip is the cemetery which lies on a hillock.
The Castle of Lombardy stands in the highest part of the city. According to some authors, it took this name from a garrison of Lombard soldiers who defended the castle during the Norman period. The best preserved tower is called the Pisan Tower. It was built by Frederick II of Swabia. It was so named because it was defended by a garrison of soldiers from Pisa. It was considered an impregnable castle. Later it was converted first into a prison and then into an open-air theater. It was called the theater closest to the stars. These days there is neither the prison nor the theater, but tourists come and visit it and the Pisan Tower. From the top of the tower it is possible to admire valleys, mountain ranges and Mount Etna.
The Monastery of Montesalvo is near the center of Sicily. An obelisk symbolizing the center of the island stands just a few meters away from the monastery. According to some, in ancient time the pagan feasts of Ceres, Kore, and Dionysus were celebrated in this place. Then, around the year 1300 a Catholic church was built to replace the pagan festivals with the one in honor of The Most Holy Mary of Visitation. The monastery is adjacent to the church. Once it teemed with Franciscan monks, but nowadays its many cells are almost all empty except for two or three where monks still live.
The cemetery is large enough to look like a town. It has broad streets and tall tombs. Many tombs are similar to small houses. They have a room inside with walled niches and an altar to celebrate Mass on November 2. My grandmother used to keep in her family tomb a few chairs for herself and for her families, relatives and friends that came to visit the tomb or passed by.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A TASTE OF SICILIAN HISTORY

LAKE

Enna is a small city on a plateau in the center of Sicily. Its foundation dates back to time immemorial. It is called the navel of Sicily. It is part of the Erei mountain chain and is located at an altitude of about one thousand and one hundred meters above sea level. Like all Greek cities, Enna was a city-state that had its own government and its own mint. It coined a coin called ennaion. With Greece Enna shared the same language and the same religion. The main worshiped goddesses were Demeter and her daughter Kore. Nobody knows exactly where the temples of Demeter and Kore stood, but it is certain that the main temple of Demeter in Sicily was that of Enna. Being Demeter the goddess of the crops, she was invoked to have a good harvest. It is said that during time of famine, even the Senate of Rome used to send a delegation to Enna to propitiate Demeter.
The people of Enna buried the dead by digging small rooms in the rock, usually facing south. In the room, painted terracotta vases were placed next to the corpse. Tombs have been excavated with well preserved skeletons and red-figure and black-figure vases. Sometimes in the mouth of the skeleton has been found a coin. The Greeks believed that to get to the Hades (the kingdom of the dead) the soul of the dead should pay a coin to Charon who ferried the dead across the Styx and the Acheron, rivers that divided the world of the living from that of the dead.
Enna has always been a city devoted to religion. When Cicero, the great Roman orator came to Enna to collect evidence against Verres, he was so surprised by the religiosity of the city that he had a feeling that the inhabitants of Enna were omnes sacerdotes (all priests).

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY MARY OF VALVERDE IN ENNA (SICILY)

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On the last Sunday of August at seven o’clock in the morning, the citizens of Enna are  awoken by a 101-gun salute. It announces the beginning of the celebrations in honor of The Most Holy Mary of Valverde, who was the patron saint of Enna until 1412.

At that time, paganism still existed and there were also some Muslim families in Enna. So, a delegation was sent to Venice to buy a new statue that could symbolize the unity of creed of all the citizens of Enna. However, the old celebration in honor of The Most Holy Mary of Valverde didn’t fade away. Every year, three statues are carried in procession: Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, and Holy Mary with Baby Jesus.
According to some archaeologists, in the same spot where now stands the church of Valverde there was the temple of Demeter. It means the paganism didn’t disappear from the heart of the people of Enna. The name of the divinity has changed over the years, but the devotion to the Mother Goddess is still the same.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo