Popular Religiosity and Collective Effervescence in Contemporary Sicily

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the religious feasts of St. Agata, one of the most important religious feasts in Southern Italy, in the city of Catania. Drawing upon participatory observation and a netnography of virtual communities of devotees, the Christian popular religiosity towards this female Saint can be seen to represent an annual consecratory encounter between the Saint/Sacred and the local community, and also a kind of contemporary ordeal for young people. As Durkheim suggested, religion is what brings people together by reinforcing social relations and moral norms through a “collective effervescence”. This group energy, when felt by the individual, is not recognized as the result of communitas, but is attributable to the sacred. I suggest that this event has a double aspect: on the one hand, every devotee has to submit him/herself to this initiation rite at least once in his/her life to confirm belonging to the local community; and on the other hand, worshippers experience a sort of humanization of the Saint, who becomes one of them, someone to ask for employment, good health and so on, in exchange for extreme performances of devotion, such as enduring of more and less severe trials. Once a year, the collective suffering for Agata is perceived by the local actors as an initiation rite during the three-day feast. I suggest that this religious celebration is not only a social form of embodiment but a perpetrated contemporary form of ordeal.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)97-101
Numero di pagine5
RivistaINTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUAMNITIES & SOCIAL STUDIES
Volume2
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014

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