Saint Agata

I came across this dessert during my recent trip to Catania, Sicily. These breast-shaped desserts are called „minne di Sant’Agata“ and reference the martyrdom of Saint Agata. She is the patron of bakers, as well as breast cancer patients and rape victims.

Saint Agata lived during the second century CE. A devout Christian, she refused to marry a pagan and insisted upon keeping her virginity. As punishment, and in order to make her ‚change her mind,‘ she was forced to become a prostitute in a brothel. She nonetheless continued to refuse to marry. As further punishment, her breasts were brutally amputated. She is usually portrayed as presenting her amputated breasts on a silver platter or depicted holding shears/tongues (that were used to cut off her breasts).

The dessert was originally made by Catanian nuns on her Saint’s Day (February 5th). The pastry is traditionally filled with ricotta cheese, candied fruit and chocolate, covered in white sugar-icing, topped with a candied cherry. Sometimes they also come filled with pistachio-marzipan.

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