Saint Leo is back

May is usually the month when the inhabitants of Sinagra have their annual appointment with their Saintly patron of St Leo.

It has been two years since the festivities have been allowed to occur, thanks to Corona, so this year’s 8th of May celebrations were filled with emotions for the Sinagrese.

I can honestly say I’ve never had a particular affinity with St Leo; I’ve always been an outsider watching the processions and traditions while admiring the picturesque nature of the Saint’s statue.

The 8th was a particularly windy, rainy and stormy day, so the local priest postponed the festa to the 14th of May, which was a beautiful sunny spring day.

For the first time in two years, the town was filled with market stalls, the local cafes were filled with people, and the local square was abuzz with activity.

It was strange to see so many people in town, the organisers of the festa had also planned other events like music concerts and art exhibitions. It felt good to see everyone milling around without masks or other restrictions.

I couldn’t remember the last time I had been at the markets or had gelato at the bar; it was for sure before the pandemic.

There was a strange relief in the air as people pretended that Covid no longer existed. Yet, I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.

As we gathered in the piazza to see the statue of St Leo pass by in the procession, I found a good position where I thought I’d be able to get a good bit of video to share with my friends and family.

As more people gathered along the sidewalk, I started to feel anxious—too many people crowding around me. My instinct was to move away to the other side of the square. But I was reluctant to lose the perfect position I had jostled for, so I stood my ground.

As the procession reached the highest point further along the road above me, the tradition calls for those carrying the Saint to run him down the hill. People choose to run in front or behind as a good luck tradition.

I knew this trampling run was going to happen, but as I saw the crowd approach, I noticed the number of people had swollen out of the usual proportions. I held my phone up above the heads in front of me and pressed record.

I panicked as the people yelled ‘E viva Santu Leo’ and charged down the hill towards me.

I honestly felt like the crowd would overwhelm me, so I ran further away and onto the other side of the square.

As I made it to a more tranquil space away from the confusion, I controlled my phone, which I had held above my head the whole time.

It was then that I realised I hadn’t pressed record.

Even though St Leo was back in town, it appears he had brought me a hefty dose of social anxiety too.