One of Boston’s oldest continuously running festivals, the Fisherman’s Feast, is the city’s latest tradition to go virtual. From Aug. 13 to Aug. 16, a host of online festivities will seek to mimic the North End event — usually filled with religious pageantry, live entertainment, and pounds of good food.
The Fisherman’s Feast is one of the largest events in the historically Italian-American neighborhood’s busy calendar of traditional Catholic feasts, usually a draw for tens of thousands of tourists and locals alike. All weekend starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, visitors will also be allowed to physically enter an outdoor chapel located in the heart of the North End (one at a time, please) where a statue honoring La Madonna Del Soccorso will be placed. Social distancing and masks will be required.
Descendants of the neighborhood’s Italian immigrants will host the usual opening procession at 7 p.m. Thursday, to be livestreamed via the Fisherman’s Feast YouTube channel (youtu.be/MtwXUc7bvN8). Saturday’s festivities include a live-streamed Mass at 11 a.m. to honor La Madonna (find it at facebook.com/StLeonardsParish) and a 7 p.m. Flight of the Angel ceremony back on YouTube.
The angel ceremony is the festival’s spectacular finale. It usually features a mid-air meeting between the hoisted Madonna statue and a neighborhood girl, who dresses as an angel and flies over the street via harness. An Italian devotion is then recited before confetti scatters into the air.
Started locally in 1910, the Fisherman’s Feast dates to 16th-century Sciacca, a town on the southwestern coast of Sicily. According to the Boston festival’s website, Sciacca residents attribute a series of miracles to La Madonna Del Soccorso (or the Lady of Help), including a mass healing when the Black Plague hit the fishing village in 1626.
Diti Kohli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_