Carroll Gardens Catholics honor ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ through annual holy march

Paying homage: Pallbearers carried a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets of Carroll Gardens on Sept. 8 for the annual Our Lady of Sorrows procession.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Some traditions never die – at least in Carroll Gardens.

Italian-born Catholics from the Congrega Maria S.S. Addolorata joined hundreds of worshippers from Brooklyn’s oldest Italian Roman Catholic parish on Sunday for an annual holy march through the streets of the brownstone enclave.

Black-clad believers from Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church gathered in front of the Summit Street place of worship to honor the feast of Maria S.S. Addolorata, the patron saint of Mola Di Bari, Italy, under the title of “Our Lady of Sorrows,” through a traditionally old-world procession and mass.

Male pallbearers of the hours-long Our Lady of Sorrows procession, a parish ritual now in its 65th year, solemnly wended through the neighborhood streets carrying a statue representing a despair-ridden Virgin Mary — the same statue that has resided in the church for the past 60 years.

“The image of the Blessed Mother is an example to us all of the pain and suffering felt when we loose someone we love in a sudden and violent way,” said John Heyer II, the church historian and long-time Carroll Gardens resident.

The life-size effigy of the crowned Virgin Mary dressed in all black with a single dagger penetrating her heart to symbolize the mourning of her son Jesus’ death was hoisted in the air throughout the procession amongst the somber tunes of a traditional Italian marching band.

Devout parishioners of all ages sang Italian hymns, children dressed in garb nearly identical to the Virgin Mary statue, and elderly women recited the rosary right up until the march came to an end and congregators returned to the church for a closing mass in Italian.

The statue of the Blessed Mother is processed around Carroll Gardens twice a year: once for the Our Lady of Sorrows procession, which always falls on the second Sunday in September, and once for the Good Friday procession.

During the Good Friday procession, pallbearers carry the same Virgin Mary effigy, this time wearing a black veil, behind a full-scale statue of Jesus, adorned with a crown of thorns, encased inside a glass coffin.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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