The festival of Sant'Efisio.The festival of Sant'Efisio.
In 1652 Sardinia was afflicted by a plague. Half the population of Cagliari died. Everywhere there was death and desperation. Then the people turned to Efisio di Elia, a martyred saint, who had been beheaded in the year 303 in Nora which is on the coast of Cagliari for refusing to deny the Christian Faith. Efisio was the commanding officer of a garrison of the Roman Emperor Diocleziano's army and was in Sardinia to suppress the Christian communities on the island. However, during a trip he had a vision similar to the one Paul had on the way to Damascus. After seeing the vision Efisio changed from persecutor into the most ardent follower of Christ. When he was asked to deny the Christian Faith he refused and was sentenced to death. He was imprisoned in Cagliari (where today there is a church dedicated to him) and was then moved secretly to the coast of Cagliari in order to prevent the people from protesting against his sentence. Efisio was beheaded by a Roman soldier on the beach of Nora.

Images of the festival of Sant' Efisio
Images of the festival of Sant' Efisio
The worship of Sant' Efisio spread throughout Cagliari and Sardinia. The crypt in Stampace, which was the prison where Efisio was kept, became a centre of spirituality and afterwards, in Nora, the place of Efisio's martyrdom, a charming little aisleless church, nowadays submerged below the sea, was built.
The name of Sant' Efisio became inextricably linked with Cagliari and Sardinia after the plague of 1650 which was the same plague Manzoni described in his famous book "I Promessi Sposi".

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