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An old Italian tradition gets new life in Bensonhurst • Brooklyn Paper

An old Italian tradition gets new life in Bensonhurst

Members of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figlia Maria S.S. Addolorata of Saint Athanasius Church will parade a statue of a pain-stricken Virgin Mary mourning Jesus’s death through Bensonhurst on Sept. 8, honoring a tradition popular in Mola di Bari, Italy.
Photo by John Napoli

Step aside Santa Rosalia — a new religious procession is about to wend its way through Bensonhurst.

Members of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figlia Maria S.S. Addolorata of Saint Athanasius Church will parade a statue of a pain-stricken Virgin Mary mourning Jesus’s death through Bensonhurst on Sept. 8, honoring a tradition popular in Mola di Bari, Italy.

“In the moment Jesus dies, the Virgin Mary becomes Sorrow,” said Associazione president Maria Nardulli. “When people lose someone in their family, they pray to the Lady of Sorrow.”

The Bensonhurst procession — which splintered off from a similar procession in Carroll Gardens in 2007 — is part of an effort to pass old-world traditions onto a new generation of Italian-Americans, Nardulli said.

“There are a lot of young people in the community, and we wanted to keep our tradition alive,” she said. “We have the opportunity to reach the children through our events.”

To bring more youngsters into a tradition that spans centuries, this year’s march will feature a DJ, food, and singing in the Saint Athanasius parking lot at Bay Parkway and 61st Street following the procession.

If the procession after-party is a success, the group will consider bringing on vendors next year and turning the event into a full-on festival, Nardulli said.

“We are trying to develop a tradition and to help the community stay together,” said Nardulli. “Little by little, people do not participate anymore and we see Italians here moving out.”

Procession in honor of Maria S.S. Addolorata at Saint Athanasius Church [2154 61st Street between 21st Avenue and Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst]. On Sept. 8 at 5:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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