Currently, the village of Porticello, where my grandfather was born and raised, is celebrating the feast of its patroness, the Madonna del Lume (The Madonna of the Light). I’ve experienced the feast a couple of times, 2015, pictured here. Traditionally, on the Monday of the feast, the sacred painting of the Madonna is taken down from the altar of the village church and processed throughout the town and its port. Devotees pack the sanctuary hoping for an opportunity to touch and rub the painting on its way to the street in order to possess its healing and protective powers. It’s a moving moment to experience.
Origins of the parish and its feast date back to the 1700s. Origins of the painting are explained by popular tales, one of which states that it arrived by the waves of the sea pushing it up to the village’s Pier of San Nicolicchio. Another states that a Jesuit priest, Jan Antonio Genovese, in the 18th century, painted the image under the guidance of the Madonna. It was his gift to the fisherman, who impressed him with their significant faith. Legend is that the Madonna blessed the work upon its completion.