Festa dell’Immacolata

December 9, 2012

Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a quiet celebration in the village. A line of faithful (mostly women) wend their way over the cobbles with candles, up and down hills, chanting Ave Maria, piena di grazia…, winding up at the Chiesa San Francesco all’Immacolata.

Poster of Virgin Mary in Sicily for Festa dell'Immacolata, copyright Jann Huizenga

Festa dell'Immacolata in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Festa dell'Immacolata in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

I was not raised Catholic, but I’m intrigued by the mystery and ceremony.

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29 comments to Festa dell’Immacolata

  • as you probably realize by now i love words. Emalene’s full name reminds me of my attempt to explain Latte macchiato to tbe Baristi at starbucks. Macchiare to stain or spot (not marked) from the latin Macula also stain or spot in the eye
    and Immaculate conception unstained by original sin from the first moment. From a post or two ago.

    • Jann

      So the terms “Macular Degeneration” and Immaculate Conception” and “caffe macchiato” are all related!!! This is fascinating. I hope Emalene sees this, too. Thanks for the linguistic lesson, Dennis. And keep them coming. Pleeeze!

  • Very moving images. To see the reverence of human being is special.

  • Such poignant images Jann. Bravissima come sempre! I wonder if being in the cradle of Catholicism down in Sicily, notwithstanding all the double standards, has changed the way you see Italy and the people… I was raised a Catholic and still find it fascinating myself. xx

  • I am fascinated with how the Sicilians hold on to traditions…re-enacting them year after year with the same passion and intensity. In my grandfather’s village of Ferla, they celebrate Easter and the Feast of their patron saint, San Sebastiano, with elaborate parades carrying the statues and when I see current pictures, I know it is exactly the way it was done when my grandfather was a young boy!

    • Jann

      Patricia, I’ve seen the Feast of San Sebastiano in Ferla, and it is absolutely incredible. I love everything about that little town… and I hope nothing ever changes! (I hope you’re able to come and see the San Sebastiano festival in person someday.)

  • Anitre

    What lovely photos, Jann. I do love the processions in Sicily. I’ve been roped into a few myself. Good fun! I hope you participated in this one, too.

    • Jann

      Anitre, I’m always a bit of an outsider to these things, but I love them. I feel a bit like an anthropologist, with my camera, recording….

  • Nancy

    Jann, love to be connected to yo in this way.So beautiful and rich. Inspirational as we plan for our exit here coming int he next year. In the process of clearing out this end and making plans for that end. I am sure your words will help guide us. For the meantime, Paris and Brussels for the holiday….Love to you and Kim.

  • Sam

    I love the photos, but I wonder if I am the only lapsed Catholic among your readers who feels differently about the mystery and ceremony.

  • Jann, please forgive my absence. It seems like my life has turned into a series of medical appointments, leaving me with little time to do much of anything else. I have missed you! Thank goodness for the respite I am now enjoying (it’s 1am) and the opportunity to catch up on your posts. And oh my, is this a lovely posts! The black and white adds such drama to these shots! Perfect for the occasion, if I say so myself. I was raised Catholic so I can relate to this post very well. Ever since we were children, my mother and nana made sure we walked in the “procesiones” or processions during Holy Week. I imagine that Italy and Spain are very similar in the religious customs. It must have been beautiful to participate in the Festa de l’Immacolata! :)

    • Jann

      Bella, a series of medical appointments is NOT a fun way to spend life. Been there… So glad you got a chance to breath a bit–never mind that it’s 1am!!!

  • Must be very moving and a little bit spooky to witness this ceremonial procession. Into the mystery…on a dark winter’s night…quietly so.

  • I’m a cradle Catholic, but I’m not familiar with this custom. It must be because we in the States simply celebrate Mass as usual, without processions and candles. You can almost feel their piety, though, can’t you?

  • B E A U T I F U L.

    I can imagine one feels the breath of GOD at these holy ceremonies.

    xxx Love flowing to you, Jann.

    • Jann

      And back to you, Kim. xxxxx

    • Nancy

      I love that description ‘the breath of GOD’. That’s exactly how I felt when we just happened upon Pope John Paul in Piazza San Pietro. The piazza was full of people and we just went in to see what was going on. I couldn’t put it into words, just knew that it was something I never felt before.

  • Emalene Renna

    My Facebook Post
    Today is December 8 the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and
    my Name Day or Feast Day. In Italy it’s a bigger deal a Birthday. My full name is Immaculata Emalene Renna. Frank says I don’t get a gift boo, since I go by Emalene.
    So happy name day to me Immaculata Emalene.
    Named after my wonderful nonna Immacolata Fargnoli RIP

    • Jann

      HAPPY BELATED NAME DAY, EMALENE!!!!!! You have two gorgeous names!!!! You tell Frank not to be stingy–you deserve a gift on BOTH your name days.

  • Nancy

    I haven’t been to Italy for any of these religious festivals. I must plan a trip around one of them. I love the way they continue tradition.

    • Jann

      Nancy–there are so many of these festivals that it’s pretty easy to find one any time of the year, though in Sicily the most amazing ones are around Easter and in summer. But Dec 13 is an amazing feast day in Siracusa, and around Christmas there are all sorts of quiet celebrations.

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