Buona Madonna!

Buona Madonna! This is how my cousin Evelina in Sicily greeted me by text today. So, Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception or la Festa dell’Immacolata to you! Today’s feast recognizes that the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin — something with which, in Catholic dogma, every person is considered to have been born. Towns throughout Sicily celebrate this feast with processions or gatherings celebrating the Virgin Mary.

I took this photo in Salemi, Sicily, where this evening, the cult of Maria Immacolata has been processing their 18th century statue of the Virgin Mother, ending in the piazza Santa Maria. During the procession, the statue holds the keys to the city, representing the Salemitani’s strong devotion to Mary and their trust of her maternal protection. For her feast, they dress and decorate the statue all in gold, and jewels, ex votos, and flowers adorn the carriage — Only the best for their patroness! At 8:30 PM, the town and surrounding countryside will enjoy a fantastic fireworks display over the Arab Norman castle.

Viva Maria! Viva Salemi!

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