NEWS » The 126th Procession of the Madonna del Carmine and Sagra

The 126th Procession of the Madonna del Carmine and Sagra

The 126th Procession of the Madonna del Carmine and the Sagra were held on Sunday the 16th of July 2017. “The procession went really well”, Peter Bertoncini, the main organiser of the event, told us. This year, the procession fell on the exact feast day of our Lady of Mt Carmel, so one of the floats represented the Madonna with Simon Stock. As it was the 100th anniversary of Fatima, one of the floats was dedicated to Fatima and the themes of the other floats were The Nativity, The fisher of men, Ecce Homo and The Crowning in Heaven.

The main people involved were Modesto and Alessandra Tondelli, Mick Morena, Anna Giacon and around 30 other people.

The preparation included this year the new designs for the floats, the making up of what was required and the painting of backcloth scenes and re-covering of some floats with new fabric.

The procession is the most important event of the Italian community in London. Every year thousands of people participate to the procession which usually starts at 3.30pm and moves throughout the Clerkenwell area surrounding St Peter's church. At the end of the procession the Holy Mass was presided by the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, to emphasise the synergy with the Catholic Church in the UK.

The procession seems to have been the first public manifestation of the faith of the Roman Catholic Church since the time of the Reformation of Henry VIII and is still one of the few events of this kind in London. Queen Victoria granted a special permit to Holborn Head of Police, so that the event could take place. The costumes appeared for the first time after World War II and the decorated floats in the 1950s.

It's difficult to count the editions of the Procession, because it has been running annually from 1884 and was suspended only during the world wars, so approximately, if we count the years leaving out the period of the wars, this should have been the 126th celebration of the procession of Our lady of Mount Carmel in London.

As every year the procession was accompanied by a joyful sagra where traditional regional Italian food could be tasted. Michele Morena, organiser of the sagra told us that this year’s event was a great success. There were two new food stalls and a new DJ playing traditional Italian regional music. For the first time St. Peter’s project had a location in the sagra in order to promote its charity initiatives. The late Olive Besagni’s new book was available for purchase. In a lively mix of English, Italian and dialects from all over the “Bel paese”, people enjoyed traditional Gelato, and many types of Olives together with salami, and regional specialities.

Stand by for the next edition as Michele Morena told us there will be “Classic cars”, for the first time! 

Giulia LOmbardo

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