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Aci Catena, Province of Catania, Sicilia

The town lies in the valley of the Aci river, and the name (given in 1826) comes from the worship of Maria Santissima della Catena.
Before then, the territory was divided into a number of boroughs having different names: Reitana, Santa Venera al Pozzo, Nizzeti, Mangano, Nova, Cubisia, Pezzagni, San Filippo, San Nicolò, Scarpi, Catena, Finocchiari, Ragiti (called today San Giacomo), Cantarelli (called today Consolazione).

Info

  • Altitude: 170 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 26,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 95022
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 095
  • Patron Saint: Maria Santissima della Catena, celebrated on 11 January and 15 August.
  • Frazioni & Localities: Aci Catena, Aci San Filippo, Aci Santa Lucia, San Nicolò, Vampolieri, Sant'Anna

History

One of the main events of the history of Aci Catena is connected to a miracle. In august 1392 in Palermo, three poor citizens were unjustly sentenced to death and were being taken to the scaffold in the piazza della Marina. The sad parade was almost there when a sudden storm obliged them to take refuge in the nearby church of Santa Maria della Catena, so called from the chain that used to close the harbor basin as a defense against pirates' raids.

The three prisoners took the occasion to pray the Virgin Mary: before the astonished guards, the prisoners' chains fell to the ground, and the Virgin Mary spoke to them. The miracle started the worship in many parts of Sicily of the Madonna della Catena, defender of all those who were unjustly persecuted.

Also in Aci Catena there was a church dedicated to this figure, and during the ruinous earthquake of 11 January 1693 the church was the only bullding spared from destruction. In 1747 Prince Luigi Il Reggio settled in Aci and had a magnificent mansion built there, which was called "II Palazzo del Principe". On 4 september 1761 a terrible flood almost destroyed the town, claiming dozens of victims.