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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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American children of Madeiran descent ready to march in parade, August 1999
American children of Madeiran descent dressed in traditional Madeiran outfits in preparation to march in the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament parade, August 1, 1999. Photo: John K. Robson

Feast of the Blessed Sacrament

The largest Portuguese feast in the world and the largest ethnic festival in New England, this annual four-day event draws more than 250,000 visitors to New Bedford in midsummer. It begins with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, a medieval ritual of devotion, followed by a parade lasting two and a half hours. Traditional Portuguese food is served, and music is performed by both Portuguese and American artists. The original feast was a strictly religious celebration begun in 1915 by four Madeiran immigrants as a re-creation of the feast celebrated in their home villages.

The project includes a 15-page essay on the history and traditions of the feast, 26 photographs, news clippings, promotional brochures, copies of a flyer for the 1999 event, a souvenir program from the 85th anniversary feast held in 1999, and information on Club Madeirense S.S. Sacramento, Inc., the sponsors of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.

Originally submitted by: Barney Frank, Representative (4th District).

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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.

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