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Our Lady on the Hudson River

Our Lady on the Hudson River

From Puglia to the world. From Molfetta, the Italian municipality with the largest number of overseas immigrants registered with AIRE (Italian Associations Residing Abroad) to Hoboken, New Jersey. A great success for the Feast of Our Lady of the Martyrs, which this year has reached 96 years of tradition abroad. Wherever there is an immigrant community of Molfetta, devotion ceremonies to Our Lady of the Martyrs are appreciated, which are held in eight places in the world: Molfetta in Italy, La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Hoboken in New Jersey, in the USA, Adelaide, Sydney, Port Perry , Fremantle and Tuncurry in Australia.

The Molfetta community that immigrated to the USA is a very large one, with a population of about 38 thousand, considering only the first and second generations. Speaking about the festivities in Hoboken Roberto Pancini, founder of the brand “I Love Molfetta”, president of the AllMovie Association, who was appointed a few months ago as the international ambassador of the Madonna de Martiri di Hoboken Association for his commitment to the many projects that saw immigrants from Molfetta in America North as heroes.

“In the 1950s and 1960s, Hoboken alone counted over 20,000 Molfettas—it started—and the connection to the land of origin has been strong ever since.” In those days, the feast of Our Lady of the Martyrs was celebrated in a small size, like a party in the neighborhood. In 1999, the privilege to bring the party to the Hoboken waterfront was granted to the Madonna dei Martiri Society and to the Italian Hoboken Festival, to bring a statue of Madonna into the waters of the Hudson River on ferries.

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This is also thanks to the will of Weehawken Mayor, Richard F. Turner, very close to the large Molfetta community in the USA. Today there are only a few Molfetta families left because the city has changed, becoming the “Beverly Hills” of New Jersey and the cost of living has increased dramatically.

“The Molfetta residents have moved to nearby towns including Weehawken, Little Ferry, Monachee, and Lodi, and many live within two or three hours of Hoboken – explains Pancini – but the Feast of Our Lady of the Martyrs does not move from Hoboken, point D” the landing place of the first emigrants from Molfetta and headquarters Headquarters of the Madonna dei Martiri Society located at 332 Adam Street.
Hoboken is actually a cosmopolitan city, which is well connected to the Big Apple and is also called New Jersey’s “park”, as it allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life.
“Celebrations of Our Lady of the Martyrs are so well felt in the United States – continues Pancini – because the Madonna of the Martyrs is defined as the ‘Mother’ who protects the Molfetta people under her red cloak.”

Madonna dei Martiri’s feast combines religion, tradition and folklore and is closely linked to Italian culture. Today it is the largest Italian party organized in New Jersey. There is a novena, in which Don Giuseppe de Candia fervently believes, who for more than forty years has been present at the feast in America and today is the honorary president of the Society of Our Lady of Hoboken Martyrs. Novena precedes all the four-day festivities, with a user of more than 120,000 participants in the Frank Sinatra drive, outfitted with Polian pavilions and lights coming straight from Puglia for different, warm lighting.

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Distinctive moments vary: from the wearing of gold bestowed on the Madonna, which was prepared the day before the feast in the chapel until the exit from the Church of St. Francis. The long procession crosses the streets of Hoboken, where you can breathe an air of faith and tradition, until you reach the port area, where the statue of the Madonna is climbed on the ferry. The ferry sails for an hour in the waters of the Hudson River, arriving at Ground Zero, where everyone gathers to pray, while party leaders throw flowers into the sea so they won’t forget the pain of 9/11.

During the four days of celebration, various entertainment events follow each other. From concerts dedicated to Italian music to American classics and even music for young people. All in between stalls of Italian food and Italian wares with plenty of tricolor. “It’s a party that makes everyone feel at home – even miles and miles away – even miles and miles away, and the invitation is to experience it personally because you appreciate what our immigrants built abroad with respect and with Molfetta in their hearts.”