Pledges & Processions

From Dominick A. Faust, 3 Jan 1996 (Calabria & Sicily):

Dear Piesanos, Over the Holiday weekend my father and I where discussing various superstitions. I have kept him abreast about the large spectrum of informative and knowledgeable people of PIE. And he agrees that PIE is a great forum for ideas and information. During our discussion my father mentioned something, he called "a pledge". He went on to give me an explanation of what he thought "a pledge" was !?! He was very young when he first encountered someone who made "a pledge".

The story as he remembers goes like this; his great aunt made a wish, and " a pledge". If the wish came true, she would walk the entire parade route, for the church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in New Jersey, in her bare feet. He believes her wish came true because she walked the entire parade route in her bare feet. Does anyone know the how and what is "a pledge" ??!?


From Denise Denner, 4 Jan 1996:

My mother made a "pledge" after my brother went to Viet Nam. She pledged she would not only attend church on every Sunday and Holy day but also volunteer on every dinner committee, cancer dressing, etc. if my brother came home alive and unharmed. She previously did not go to church at all except weddings and funerals. My brother is 52 years old now and my mother is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's but she still attends mass every week and on holy days at the home. Maybe this "pledge" is not superstition but faith.


From John Mafodda, 4 Jan 1996 (Sicily):

There is a celebration in New Jersey on July 16th the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is held annually at Saint Joseph Church in Hammonton New Jersey. This celebration was started over 100 years ago by a group of Italian immigrants (My Grandfather included) from the village of Geso outside of Messina. They had come to this country, as many did at that time to find a better life and they brought with them a strong will, and a deep faith, and in this faith a profound devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They formed a Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and promised that if She would watch over their crops and their families every July 16th they would hold a special devotion in Her honor.

This devotion started with a procession through the fields. They would sing the Ave Maria and recite the rosary, many would carry large candles. In the early days the procession would be led by someone carrying a pricture of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and when they had accumulated enough money they commissioned to have a statue built. The men of the society would then vie for the honor of carrying this full sized statue on their shoulders throughout the procession. Considering that the procession had begun to travel around the town a distance of Five miles and take upwards to 16 hours to complete this was quite a devotion.

People from up to 500 Miles away rent Busses and come to the Festival, and during the war years many a Mother and Wife prayed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel to bring their Men home safe. I have wittnessed many Women some in their 70's and 80's carrying large candles while walking in their bare feet the entire procession route in thanks for answering their prayers. My Mother walked in this procession until she was 79 Years old and could no longer make the trip.

Modern technology has taken over, they now roll the Statue through the streets on a specially constructed cart and the procession is much smaller and does not take quite so long, but non the less there are still people who would not miss a July 16th celibration of the Feast of Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel. I no longer live in the area but when the celebration falls on a Weekend I attend.

From Pualani Anzelmo Wagner, 4 Jan 1996:

We also had a celebration in Newark New Jersey, called the First Ward, meaning all Italians, was the procession of the Blessed Mother. On the day of the feast, old, young, would start out from the church, St.Lucy's on 7th ave. and walk to Garside St. up Bloomfield ave. and to Park Ave. and back to 7th Ave. This also was quite lengthy and the older Italian women would walk with rosary beads in one hand, and a candle in the other. Four men would hold the blessed Mother on their shoulders, and one man would be on the side of the blessed Mother, and they would pin dollors on Her dress which made of white silk and a blue satin veil for Her head.

It is said that a "novena" is made at the time of the passing of the blessed Mother, that if you give what ever you could afford, your prayers would be answered. My mothers pledge was never revailed to us children, but there were five of us children, and no father. My father died when I was only 9 years old,and my mother never remarried. To see the streets crowded as it was, and people reaching to touch and kiss the apron of the blessed Mother was a site to see. People would come out of buildings, and store owners would rush to see Her.

Now there is no more feasts in Newark, New Jersey, were the church would be open 24 hours, and now only open on Sunday for church services, and confessions on Sat. I went home to see the church, and can't believe my eyes! how small and different it looks. Where have they all gone!