Father Mark Hushen, Pastor, St. Anthony of Padula Church, receives donations in processional, 1998. Photo: Anthony Bocchini
St. Anthony of Padua Feast Day Procession
The St. Anthony of Padua Feast Day Procession,
which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2000, is the most
important factor in bringing the Italian-American people of
Wilmington together. This annual religious procession is a
reminder of their Italian heritage and faith.
What began in 1925 as a small religious procession
for the new Catholic church, St. Anthony, honoring one saint, now
includes twelve saints.
Il carnevale was a tradition found
in small Italian cities and towns to commemorate the local saint
with a religious procession followed by a festive
carnevale. Although a small
carnevale was held
for several years in Wilmington, the first large-scale
carnevale took place in August 1933. In following years,
the parish held its religious processions three times a year: in
June for the feast of St. Anthony of Padua; in July for the feast
of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and in August for the feast of St.
Francis de Paola.
By 1975, the
carnevale had expanded to an
eight-day event, centered around the June 13th date, which is St.
Anthony of Padua's feast day, and became known as
Patronale. The festival culminated with the traditional
procession of those saints that were especially important to
parishioners. These saints, which are St. Anthony of Padua, St.
Michael the Archangel, St. Rocco, St. Francis de Paola, St.
Patrick, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Rita, St. Gabriel of Our
Lady of Sorrows, Mater Maria dell Misericordia, Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel, St. Lucy, and St. Pius X, are placed on platforms and
carried or pulled by men for two miles through the Italian
community. The procession also includes parish priests, the Bishop
of Wilmington, members of various religious societies, men and
women dressed in regional Italian costumes, children dressed in the
Lenten religious costume, the Via Crucis (stations of the cross), a
float bearing the model of the church, elected government
officials, and several bands, especially the Old Colonial Band. The
latter band has been performing since it was founded by Salvatore
Zoli in 1900, and was conducted by his grandson, Joseph, in year
Documentation includes many "processional" snapshots,
a 1949 portrait photograph of St. Anthony's Band, and a video of
the 1997 mass and procession.
Originally submitted by: William V. Roth, Jr., 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.