Called “In Cursa i Santu Liu” in the Sicilian dialect, for hundreds of years this race has characterized Easter Sunday in Sinagra, Sicily. On Easter Sunday evening, the large wooden statue of San Leone is mounted on a massive float, carried by the Confraternity of San Leone. The procession begins outside the town at Chiesa di San Leone, which was built early in the 18th century to replace the original one that stood near the cave where San Leone lived. It then proceeds to the town proper.
The running of the San Leone recalls one of the saint’s miracles. While he was Bishop of Catania, a sorcerer named Heliodorus, impressed the locals with his sleight of hand and trickery, claiming to be more powerful than God. The Saint challenged him to a literal baptism of fire. He called upon the townsfolk to build a bonfire and when lit, he entered the fire, dragging the sorcerer along. San Leone emerged unscathed, while the evil sorcerer perished and good had triumphed over evil.
Young and old alike bear the weight upon their shoulders, while thousands cheer the men on with the chant “Viva, viva Santu Liu.” At the entrance to the town, marked by a bridge, the pace suddenly quickens to a sprint. With torches lining the route, the sound of fireworks erupt as the band begins to play.