Parade float, late 1930s
The Madonna del Lume Celebration (Blessing of the Fishing Fleet)
the first weekend in October each year, this celebration has taken
place for over 60 years in San Francisco. Named for the patroness
of fishermen, it preserves an ancient Sicilian ritual brought to
the United States by immigrants from Porticello. A memorial Mass is
held for fishermen and seamen lost at sea at the Fishermen's and
Seamen's Memorial Chapel, followed by a fishing boat parade and
memorial ceremony at sea. The next day, a high Mass dedicated to
the "Mother of the Light" is held with liturgy in Italian, followed
by a procession in which the church's painting of the Madonna del
Lume, a replica of the original in Porticello, is borne aloft. The
blessing of the fleet follows, accompanied by musical performances
and a Sicilian folklorist. The celebration concludes with a
traditional dinner. Documentation consists of a videotape and audio
cassettes of the 1999 Celebration, 27 pages of text, 18
photographs. a schedule of events, program from the mass,
commemorative pin, and several newspaper articles.
Originally submitted by: Dianne Feinstein, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.