Agony and death

When the disease was prevailing

Posted by Sicilian Ancestry on Jul 13, 2019

When the disease was prevailing and the sick man’s life was quickly fading away, relatives used to put decorations in the house, usually holy relics and images of saints. Women from the neighbourhood were gathering due to curiosity but also to show affection. They used to sit in circle or lining up for hours before the dying person, whispering and mitigating both the dying and his relatives’ suffering. They used to try to prevent the dying person to realize his fate even if it was crystal clear.

Death is usually expected at midnight, alternatively at dawn or lastly at noon. If the sick man has not passed away by noon, everyone believed it was an ongoing supernatural event.

Old man in Cefalù

They used to place consecrated palms on the bed and slightly before the sick man was exhaling his last breath it was used to have 33 rings of bell from a near church to inform citizens a person was passing away so that they could share a prayer for his soul.

Death comes at last. When the eyes shut shouting break out and relatives cry out in grief. All attendees are astonished as they try to give relief to the dead kin. The shouting changes into a wail, then revert back to yelling and shouting. Some of them tend to the corpse while others take care of the living.