The 127th annaul Giglio Feast, an Italian tradition, was held in Williamsburg Sunday. After a last minute schedule change, the Mayor–of Italian heritage and visiting the country next week–participated.
Every year, Italian residents of the Williamsburg community look forward to the feast, which is always held in July. Officially it is known as “the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Paulinus of Nola,” a combined event ever since The Shrine Church Of Our Lady of Mount Carmel took over the reins of this important feast in the 1950s, combining the Giglio Feast with the feast honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The festivities include the lifting of an 80-foot-tall, three-ton statue known as the Giglio, which means “lily” in Italian. The statue is topped by a representation of St. Paulinus, an early Christian martyr who was taken prisoner by the Turks; when he was finally released, St. Paulinus returned to Nola in a boat and the people all ran to shore to greet him with lilies.
The remembrance “commemorates an extraordinary bit of southern Italian history which culminated in the canonization of an erstwhile bishop of the small city of Nola,” the Church’s web site explains.
According to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, since 1903, when the Nolani immigrants first held their transplanted feast in this Brooklyn neighborhood, the feast has attempted to maintain many of the traditions from the Mezzogiorno.