August 18, 2020

It has been a vastly different year of celebrations in Boston's North End for the annual Italian feasts. These famous street festivals honoring the saints have had to cancel the large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Carrying the Madonna at the 2020 Fisherman's Feast

  • Fr. Michael Della Penna leads a blessing on the 100th Anniversary of the Feast of Madonna Della Cava

Yet, the traditions continue as they have for over a century with faith bringing family and community together. This year, the outdoor chapels featured intimate blessings with photos and videos distributed over social media.

Celebratory confetti rains over the Madonna statue as it emerges for the 110th Fisherman's Feast

As part of the 110th Fisherman’s Feast, the Society of Madonna del Doccorso di Sciacca taped a virtual version of its famous Flight of the Angel. “Although the angel may not be gracing the skies of the North End, that does not mean that our ceremony will not happen this year,” said feast officials. This year’s angel is Mia Graffeo, 10, who will also fly next year at the 111th Fisherman’s Feast. (View the virtual version on YouTube.)  Also, check out our Flight of the Angel photos from past years.

This year, the society also held a  blessing with Fr. Michael Della Penna of St. Leonard Church at the outdoor chapel in Boston’s North End. Over the weekend, the statue of La Madonna Del Soccorso was placed at the corner of Lewis and North Streets outside the Fisherman’s Club. Devotees visited, one person at a time in the chapel. View photos of this year's smaller celebration.

Society members walk on Hanover Street with the image of Madonna della Cava

The second weekend of August 2020 would have been the 100th Anniversary for the Feast of the Madonna Della Cava. Instead, a small number of members from the Madonna Della Cava Society held a brief outdoor blessing on Battery Street in Boston’s North End, led by Fr. Michael Della Penna of St. Leonard Parish. Following the blessing, the group walked the image of the Madonna down the block to St. Stephen’s Church for Mass. 

The society honors Maria SS Della Cava, Principal Patron of Pietraperzia, Sicily. Her image was rediscovered miraculously in the year 1223 by a mute from Trapani who was directed by Our Lady to proceed to the outskirts of the town where her portrait would be found. In the process, his speech and hearing were restored. The first words emitted by the mute were, “VIVA MARIA SS DELLA CAVA.” 

  • Society members look on during the outdoor blessing

  • Masks on during the pandemic for devotees of the Madonna at the 110th Fisherman's Feast

All the societies pray that next year brings a vaccine so the Italian feasts can return in full to Boston's North End. In the meantime, reminisce with these photos from the past decade of festivals and processions.


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