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ZAFFERIA bandiera-inglese

Like many other villages on the Ionian side of Sicily, the old and new districts of Zafferia so – read out on gentle slopes between the moun­tains and the sea, five kilometres from Messina and three kilometres from the Messina Sud – Tremestieri link road on the Messina – Catania motorway. Looking at it from far, nothing catches the eye nor it is pos­sible to hear the call of those artistic rocks.However, in this small gathering of houses which surrounds one of the oldest parishes in the dioscese which has remarkably united Latin and Greek traditions, one can sense the mysterious presence of “a mes­sage of pardon and peace which is the greatest in the history of men and of the Church” , the privilege of “The year of Great Indulgence” .

Tradition has it that a doctor from this area treated a Pope, and obtained for the parish of his place of birth, the gift of a “Hold Year” (as it had been commonly called until 1988), to be celebrated on eve­ry occasion on which the feast of the” Annunciation of Our Lord” (25 March), coincited with the Saturday of Holy Week.

Unfortunately the name of the Pontiff remains unknown, as is the name of the curing doctor and the dates of the first jubilee celebra­tions. The documents in the possession of the parish archives date back to 1661, and are testimony of the jubilee up until 1690. But it was only with Pope Pius VII, to whom they had appealed in order to clarify a quarrel arisen with the then Archbishop of Messina, Mons. Gaetano Garrasi, who did not want to recognise the ancient privilege, that on 4 th March, 1817, two years after the coincidence of jubilee, the perpe­tual plenary indulgence was granted.

In this century the gracious event received full confirmation from the Apostolic Penitentiary on 6th December, 1966 for the year 1967 ­1968. Another coincidence occurred in 1978 but the concession was reconfirmed on 7th February, 1978 by “Express Apostolic Authority” losing the characteristic of perpetuity.

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In fact, the Apostolic Penitentiary, through asking for a modification in the wording of the “Holy Year”, which was changed to “the year of Great Indulgence”, granted the privilege of perpetuity again on 12th November, 1988.

This event, while strengthening the traditions of Zafferia, consoli­dates even more the links with the See of Peter, not only of this small village and of Messina, but of the whole island, as was widely shown when the Pope visited the city of the two seas in the June 1988.

To go to Zafferia:

Go out of motorway at South Messina - Tremestieri exit; come along highway to Messina, then tum left at the second traffic-lights.

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