Before I met my husband Rocco, August 5th for me was usually just a hot Long Island summer day. Little did I know then that it would become a special day each year marked with a celebratory Mass in honor of "La Madonna della Neve" followed by a Parade around his Brooklyn neighborhood. The feast day was referred to as Our Lady of Snow. The Society located on Graham Ave in Greenpoint was founded in 1888 by immigrants from Sanza Italy to provide financial and psychological support to Italian immigrants in need.
The legend dates back to August 5th, 352. It was believed there was a nobleman and his childless wife that had been blessed with many of the world's goods. They chose the Mother of God as heir to their fortune and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius prayed that she would make known to them how to do this with some sign. On August 5th she appeared to both John and his wife and the Pope and asked that they build a church in her honor on the crown of Esquiline Hill. The sign that John and his wife had asked for, "Snow will cover the crest of the hill." Then during the night the snow fell and the rest is history... a church was built by John and his wife and named Basilica of Liberius but has since been known by Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore having been restored over the years. Back then it was also believed that the bells chimed louder and clearer than those of Paregine, in the town of Sanza in the southern Italian province of Salerno. The decision was Sanza be awarded the sacred statute of Our Lady of Snow.
My mother-in-law Rachel's family had immigrated from Sanza and thus came the tradition to be passed on. Although we no longer live up North and have lost many of those who we celebrated with us, my husband Rocco and I still mark this day with beautiful memories and renewed belief in miracles that can happen with the power of prayer.
Our celebrations started with the Mass at St Francis in Greenpoint and then we joined the parade where thay marched and pinned money on the Saint. It was so community minded with lots of pride and charity. Then people all around the neighborhood would visit and bring some food to share and certainly stories of the old days and yes later on the singing began. I have to share a really funny memory of many years ago....my husband and I used our car to pull the Statue in the parade and after the parade they parked the float in my Father-in-laws garage. The Statue had been dropped off at the Socity Hall on Graham avenue earlier. The day was exceptionally warm and the ice cold beer on tap sure quenched your thirst. Well anyway later on in the evening we noticed my brother-in-law Sonny was missing and we went looking for him. At first we could'nt find him but then someone checked the garage and to our surprise there was Sonny sitting on the float where the Statue had been, waving and singing! We still laugh and tease him to this day of that evening. He truly captured the moment forever in our minds of August 5th celebrations.
To all who are celebrating August 5th today for Our Lady of the Snow we wish you a beautiful Blessed day!
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
and follow me on...