Giglio Feast Celebrated in Williamsburg

The giglio procession in Williamsburg (Photo by Brooklyn Media Group via Home Reporter)

The giglio procession in Williamsburg (Photo by Brooklyn Media Group via Home Reporter)

Thousands of members of the Italian community gathered in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn to celebrate the Giglio Feast in mid-July, reports Heather Chin of the Home Reporter.

The feast commemorates the sacrifice of St. Paulinus, the one-time bishop of Nola in Italy, in offering his freedom in exchange for the safety of children who had been kidnapped by pirates around 410 A.D. Eventually, St. Paulinus was said to have been released by the Turkish sultan who had seized him.

For 56 years, the feast in Williamsburg has been held every July at The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Another Giglio Feast is held in East Harlem in August.

The celebrations have been a constant throughout Jerrilyn Lobello’s life, bringing her family together every year around a “very long family tradition [that] is unlike any other feast.

“It’s the last one that I can really say has all the Italian culture still in it,” said Lobello, who grew up in Marine Park and has been attending the annual two-week festival ever since she was a baby 25 years ago.

Carried on the streets for the celebration is a 50-foot tower laden with lily (giglio) flowers, as well as a model of the boat that returned St. Paulinus to his community in Italy.

“The Giglio boys and men carry the statue throughout the street, play music and dance with the statue as they carry it. It’s unbelievable,” described Lobello. “There’s also time to pray to the Blessed Mother and the church is absolutely beautiful. So it’s not only a good time, but it’s also spiritual.”

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