The patron Saint of Sorrento is Sant’Antonino
Sorrento is preparing for their Patron Saints’ festival on February 14.
Olga Stinga with Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento shared the story of St. Antonino with me and the great program this amazing language school has for the month of February, see below.
I spent 3 months in Sorrento arriving in time to attend the celebration of Pasqua, (Easter) and can confirm that an Italian festival is an event tourist rarely see but travelers should always experience.
The festival to honor the patron saint of Sorrento runs from the night of February 13th to midnight on the 14th. Saint Antonino is far more important than the commercial holiday of Valentine’s day. The entire town of Sorrento and Italians from the villages near Sorrento participate in the scheduled events and public celebration. click to view some of the events for this festival
Some History: St. Antonino died in AD 626 on February 14th
there is a large church in his honor found on the square which also bears his name, Piazza Antonino.
The famous story goes that on the Sorrento beach he saved a child who had been swallowed by a whale. Two whale bones in the church are said to come from this very creature.
Within the basilica there are many other artifacts dedicated by sailors who survived shipwreck and wished to thank this patron saint of rescues.
Most statues of the saint depict him standing on a sea creature.
Another legend is that the Archangel Michael appeared to Antonino and told him to build a church in Sorrento. This he did. Subsequently his tomb was built alongside it. In the 11th century this was rebuilt into the current Basilica, although Sant’Antonino’s crypt inside, it is more modern, rebuilt in the 18th century.
Olga Stinga shared how the towns people feel about their patron saint:
“The festival of Sant’Antonino has a special religious meaning; we believe in the miracles that Sant’Antonino made (performed) and that (he) still makes. We trust in him. In fact while the silver statue of the saint passes along the streets of Sorrento there are people who cry.
We consider this saint as the city of Sorrento itself. We cannot imagine Sorrento without Sant’Antonino. In the church, people go to participate in the holy mass, to bring the holy oil of Sant’Antonino and take the bread that has been blessed with the holy water.”
– After the mass there is a Holy procession as the silver statue of Antonino is taken from the church and marched through the streets.
Sorrento has a festive feel with many ‘bancarelle” (booths) set up throughout town selling food, games for the children furniture for the home, even clothing and all sorts of items. Street art that you see daily in Florence, created by Madonnari (men that paint the images of saints and Madonnas in the street) can be viewed. A full celebration.
While traveling in February you can attend special programs at Sant’Anna Institute. I have taken their group and private language lessons and learned more than Italian….I gained new friends that I visit almost every year. Contact Olga Stinga for details. Come be Italian in Sorrento: Olga Stinga firstname.lastname@example.org
A former student’s opinion:
“I have been at Sant’Anna Institute for 2 weeks. I lived in Sorrento in February, when there are no tourists, and it has been Fantastic!. I paid a basic course of two weeks, but I had the opportunity to attend an individual course taylor made for me. In January and February, there are not so many students in Sorrento and the school has been the ideal place to learn Italian and immerse in the Italian language and culture. I learned a lot and quickly. I experienced the magic of Valentine’s Day that in Sorrento, where on the same day, they celebrate St. Anthony, the patron saint of the city. I have met many people of Sorrento, I talked to them (in Italian!) and ate with them. I loved Sorrento! “
All photos courtesy of SASL