When in the south of italy, you definitely have to try the iconic green dessert from Sicily, the Cassatella di Sant Agata. Sweet in taste, their historical origin is not so sweet… Shaped like halved balls, often wrapped in white and/or green marzipan, with a red cherry on top. An iconic look, to resemble nothing less than a womans breast. More precisely, the breast of Agatha of Sicily. She is a christian saint and was martyred.
Agatha of Sicily, namegiver of the Cassatella di Sant Agata
Agatha of Sicily only lived from 231 to 251 AD until she was martyred. She was born in Catania, then part of the roman province of Sicily.
During the Decian persecution (250–253) she was martyred for her determined profession of faith, to God, and not worshipping the Roman gods as the decree ordered them to do so. Read here a bit more about the Effects of the edict on Christians. She was tortured, and underwent stretchching on a rack, burning with torches, and eventually the excision of her breasts with hot metal pincers (“breast rippers”). She survied all of this, and later died in prisonship. And this is where the origin of this dessert comes from. In rememberance on her lost breasts, we now get to enjoy a sweet dessert. Kind of macabre, no..?
Remembering and celebrating Agatha of Sicily nowadays
The fest for Agatha of Sicily is on February 5th, in her home of Catania. Read more about the festival on the website of visitsicily.info.