The day of Saint Ephysius is a very important holiday in Cagliari: it commemorates a miracle recorded in 1656, the year when the city was hit the hardest by the plague epidemic that had been decimating Sardinia’s population for four years.
Having lost 10,000 people to the terrible disease, the municipality’s institutions resorted to praying the holy martyr, a soldier of the Roman imperial army who had converted and was therefore executed in the early 4th century in Nora, under Diocletian’s Christian persecution. The city of Cagliari prayed for grace, promising a special celebration in return for stopping the epidemic.
Since 1657, Cagliari has honored that promise every single year, with a spectacular procession of decorated wagons ending with the statue of Saint Ephysius carried on a grand, golden 17th-century chariot. The itinerary is about sixty-five kilometers long and stretches from the Baroque Church of Saint Ephysius in the Stampace district to the small Romanesque church of the same name in Pula, near the ruins of Nora, southwest of Cagliari. The procession takes four days on foot, from May 1st to May 4th, to go and come back to Cagliari through a number of towns such as Capoterra and Sarroch.
It is a beautiful tradition that this year will return again, to express the city’s centuries-old gratitude for grace received.