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La Festa di San Gennaro

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The Feast of San Gennaro, celebrated on September 19, is the oldest and biggest religious salute to the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro.  In Italy, thousands of people gather in the Naples cathedral and Piazza del Duomo to witness the miracle of San Gennaro. A vial of the saint's blood is brought out by the priest and the hopefully, the blood miraculously liquefies. The festival, lasting eight days, also includes processions and feasting and is a great chance to witness a traditional religious festival.

Early Italian immigrants to New York brought the festival with them. Originally a one-day religious commemoration, the feast day began in September 1926 when a group gathered along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of New York City and built a small chapel in the street to house the image of their patron Saint. They invited all to partake in the festivities and asked the devoted to pin an offering to the ribbon streamers that are hung from the statue's apron. This money was then distributed to the needy poor of the neighborhood.

Over time, the festival expanded into an 11-day street fair organized and run by people outside the neighborhood. Now it brings more than 1 million people to NYC’s Little Italy on Mulberry street for parades, street vendors, games, sausages, zeppole and other attractions. The Grand Procession is held starting at 2 p.m. on the last Saturday of the feast, immediately after a celebratory Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. This is a Roman Catholic candlelit procession in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets of Little Italy.

Similar festivals now take place in cities all over the United States. In 2002 The Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles was founded and it is now a major event held every September in Hollywood. In 1986, the festival was brought to Las Vegas and since then has become so popular, it is held twice a year!  

Buona Festa Oggi! www.sangennaro.org