The Giglio Feast
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (275 N. 8th St., Brooklyn)

In Italian Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the residents of the community look forward to the annual Giglio Feast held every July. Since 1903, when the Nolani immigrants first held their transplanted feast in this Brooklyn neighborhood, this festa has attempted to maintain many of the traditions from the Mezzogiorno, while adjusting to the new culture in America and accommodating the pressure to change.

The Nolani, who settled in this section of Brooklyn in the the flood tide of southern Italian immigration washed upon the American shores.were eager to pay homage to their patron saint, San Paolino (the Catholic Church prefers the Latin pronunciation, Saint Paulinus) However, there were more pressing tasks to accomplish first. Along with their co-religionists, the Italian residents contributed to the building of the original Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church ( at North 8th Street and Union Avenue). The devotion of all southern Italians to the Madonna is legend, but their adoration of la Madonna Della Carmine (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is of the highest order. As important as the Catholic Church was to these people, they still desired to pay homage to San Paolino. It is important to point out that the saints belonged, in the eyes of the peasant immigrant, more to their town or village, than to the institutional church. Thus, in the case of honoring SanPaolino, the responsibility in the United States fell not upon their parish, but to a mutual aid society which had been formed.Societ&agrave M.S. San Paolino. The preferred method of meeting this obligation was to hold an annual feast in honor of the saint in question. From 1903 to 1954 , the Societ&agrave M.S. San Paolino took responsibility for the operation of this annual feast in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This feast, which has been taking place in Brooklyn for over 100 years, commemorates an extraordinary bit of southern Italian history which culminated in the canonization of an erstwhile bishop of the small city of Nola. Not even Catholic until his thirty-seventh year, Paulinus was destined to become a renowned religious hero of that region. Though he was to serve as Bishop of Nola from 409 AD to 431 AD, it was an alleged episode, that took place shortly after his elevation to bishop, for which the Nolani hold him in such high regard.