Donna Crucifissa and the tuna fishermen of Capo Milazzo

cf also >>  Marine Reserve of Cape Milazzo 

from the book "Dicerie" by Carlo Catanzaro - ed. tecnodid, piazza Carlo III, Naples
The webmaster thanks the author for the privilege he had

The legend of the Rat Tail

 tromba d'aria "cuta 'i rattu"

A rat tail

Once upon a time there was the tonnara of Tono and the oldest tonnarella of Sant'Antonino on the West Sea. The so-called "tonnarella" had become a kind of appendix of the great Tuna tonnara and was put into the sea, from the end of the Cape to the Maidda for the capture of those tuna that approached the coast to fall in the Bay of Sant'Antonino. The coast of the Bay was crossed by a long path that, descending after a few hundred meters from the Villa Lucifero, reached the Punta del Messinese where, sheltered by a rock cloister, was, among the tall palms, a rustic stone construction with annexed a small cistern.In this construction lived a woman Crucifissa (Crocifissa), widow of rasa Cola (ras Nicholas) already superintendent of the tonnarella and keeper of some warehouses, for the deposit of fishing equipment, which stood along the path, near the sea.

Copertina del volume "Dicerie" - di Carlo Catanzaro A thin, skinny Donna Crucifissa, a woman with olive skin and eyes of fire, she was a gentle and very religious creature, custodian of ancient and arcane prayers that gave her strange and mysterious powers against the devil and the adverse forces of nature. These powers the woman exercised only in exceptional cases, without any compensation, always with great reserve and always in the name of the Holy Trinity and of many local saints, now the most unknown, whose cult had been abandoned for centuries.

To these saints, familiar to her and forgotten by everyone, she always used recurrently with success, also to cut the whirlwinds that, like long tails of rat ("cuti i rattu") hanging from storm clouds, were sucked by the sea nets and fishermen and trees and houses uprooted from the land. It was the middle of June and the weather that year still seemed like winter. Scirocco turbines and an adverse game of the currents had repeatedly struck the tonnarella nets. Tuna, swordfish, palamidi and alalunghe had not even seen the shadow. One morning, in an unnatural stillness, without wind, under a sky of pitch-black clouds, a monstrous whirlwind could be seen rumbling about a mile from the coast on the Secca di Ponente. Many frightened by the event were locked in the house, others took refuge in the church of Sant'Antonino, carved into the rock. The sailors of the tonnara immediately brought Donna Crucifissa on the high cliff of the lantern, trusting that as always the woman would also cut the impetuous and gigantic vortex promptly with her orations. webalice webalice webalice But the ritual in this circumstance was not the usual one. The woman at the sight of the terrible phenomenon of such immense proportions was seized by an unstoppable tremor and a crying tear, she wanted to have collected two "spikes" (leaves) prickly of prickly pear and on these kneels she gathered for a long time in prayer. The clouds became lower and lower, invading the Promontory like thick fog. The noise of the vortex became a chilling ululation.

At this point Donna Crucifissa imposed on everyone present to prostrate herself on the ground, clenching her face tightly in her hands for no one to see. Then he began to recite his prayer aloud. What happened in those minutes, miracle or magic, no one will ever know. It rained everywhere in the olive grove, on the houses, on every bush or path an infinity of fishes of every kind and of every dimension. When the woman told the sailors to rise from the ground and look around, the tremendous whirlwind and the black clouds there were no more tracks, instead there were fish and algae everywhere.

Le pale del ficodindia di capo Milazzo, dette volgarmente "chiappe"

The prickly pears of Capo Milazzo, commonly called "chiappe di ficarazzi", on which Donna Crocifissa kneeled

Momento della pesca al Tonno: la mattanza

Moment of tuna fishing: the slaughter in Milazzo

Nobody knew what and how it happened. The prodigies of Crucifissa woman were many, just a lot! And her death was mysterious too. The woman now almost a hundred years old, after the death of Raso Cola moved more and more rarely from her remote home. Two elderly nephews, who lived not far from the Villa Lucifero, looked after her with love and devotion. The priest who every Sunday officiated in the chapel of the Villa never failed to bring the Holy Communion on time. In one night at the end of August, a violent storm shook the whole Promontory with wind and hail. A thunderbolt, as if they had never seen it, illuminated the sky as if it were day and a tremendous roar shook the earth from the depths like an apocalyptic earthquake. At dawn the damage was counted. The home of Donna Crucifissa was still apparently intact, but devoid of shingles and fixtures and emptied of everything. Perhaps a whirlwind had sucked away forever, and who knows where, the old saint and his few possessions.

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