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St. Peter's Fiesta: Photos Of Sicilian Gloucester’s Celebration Of Fishing And Faith

The statue of St. Peter is showered with confetti as it's carried into Gloucester's St. Peter's Square during the opening ceremonies of the St. Peter's Fiesta, June 24, 2016. (Greg Cook)
The statue of St. Peter is showered with confetti as it's carried into Gloucester's St. Peter's Square during the opening ceremonies of the St. Peter's Fiesta, June 24, 2016. (Greg Cook)
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“My grandfather was a fisherman. My family is still in the fishing industry now," explains “Sista” Felica Ciaramitaro-Mohan of Gloucester. "St. Peter is the patron saint that watches over the fishermen when they go out to sea."

On Sunday, the Sicilian Catholic community of Gloucester, which has long had ties to commercial fishing, concluded its 89th annual St. Peter’s Fiesta in honor of the fisherman in the Bible who became one of Jesus’ first followers and is considered the Catholic Church’s first pope.

The multi-day celebration of the city’s commercial fishing and faith has grown to become a city-wide party featuring parades of statues and icons through the streets, rowing races, the blessing of the city’s commercial fishing fleet, Masses, nine evenings of prayer, a carnival and the greasy pole contest (learn more about that below).

In the St. Peter’s Fiesta Greasy Pole contest, costumed men vie to be the first to traverse a 40-odd-foot-long telephone pole slathered with grease and grab a flag off the end. June 26, 2016. (Greg Cook)
In the St. Peter’s Fiesta Greasy Pole contest, costumed men vie to be the first to traverse a 40-odd-foot-long telephone pole slathered with grease and grab a flag off the end. June 26, 2016. (Greg Cook)

The festival began in 1926, when a Gloucester fishing captain by the name of Salvatore Favazza commissioned a Charlestown sculptor to fashion a statue of St. Peter. The statue remains the centerpiece of the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, much like celebrations in Favazza’s native Sicily, honoring and thanking the saint for his protection and support.

“My passion,” Ciaramitaro-Mohan says, “is to pass on these traditions to the younger generation.”

“It was insane,” Mike Sanfilippo says after being carried up Gloucester’s Pavilion Beach upon winning the Greasy Pole contest on Friday. “It was the craziest thing. I got halfway, I got a little bit more, and then I was done. Literally, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been practicing since I was little.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
“It was insane,” Mike Sanfilippo says after being carried up Gloucester’s Pavilion Beach upon winning the Greasy Pole contest on Friday. “It was the craziest thing. I got halfway, I got a little bit more, and then I was done. Literally, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been practicing since I was little.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
St. Peter’s Fiesta begins with the Novena in which the faithful gather upstairs at the Gloucester’s Legion Hall for nine consecutive evenings of singing and prayer. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
St. Peter’s Fiesta begins with the Novena in which the faithful gather upstairs at the Gloucester’s Legion Hall for nine consecutive evenings of singing and prayer. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The Mother of Grace statue is carried up Washington Street in Gloucester during Sunday's procession. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The Mother of Grace statue is carried up Washington Street in Gloucester during Sunday's procession. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Six-year-old Camila Echevarria tosses confetti down from the window of Gloucester’s Mother of Grace Club onto the statue of St. Peter during the Fiesta’s procession on Sunday. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Six-year-old Camila Echevarria tosses confetti down from the window of Gloucester’s Mother of Grace Club onto the statue of St. Peter during the Fiesta’s procession on Sunday. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Shouting blessings during the Sunday procession. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Shouting blessings during the Sunday procession. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
“In our town, everybody walks barefoot” during the fiesta procession, says Frank Carini, a native of the Sicilian town of Porticello in Italy who walked barefoot in Gloucester's Sunday Fiesta procession. “It’s like a sacrifice. And over there the fishermen walk barefoot all day when they’re going fishing.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
“In our town, everybody walks barefoot” during the fiesta procession, says Frank Carini, a native of the Sicilian town of Porticello in Italy who walked barefoot in Gloucester's Sunday Fiesta procession. “It’s like a sacrifice. And over there the fishermen walk barefoot all day when they’re going fishing.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The St. Peter Statue is carried up Prospect Street in Gloucester during the St. Peter’s Fiesta procession on Sunday. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The St. Peter Statue is carried up Prospect Street in Gloucester during the St. Peter’s Fiesta procession on Sunday. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The icon of the Madonna del Lume, the patron saint of Porticello, Sicily, is showered with confetti as it is carried through downtown Gloucester during the St. Peter’s Fiesta Sunday procession, June 26, 2016. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The icon of the Madonna del Lume, the patron saint of Porticello, Sicily, is showered with confetti as it is carried through downtown Gloucester during the St. Peter’s Fiesta Sunday procession, June 26, 2016. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
During the Sunday procession, men wrap the St. Peter statue in ribbons of dollar bills—a gift from Roseanne Dodge, her sister-in-law Mary Ciaramitaro and their families. “We do it in memory of my parents Leo and Lena Ciaramitaro and neice Nicole Ciaramitaro that passed away in a car accident," Dodge says. "My father was a fisherman and he just loved St. Peter’s. He lived every year waiting for St. Peter’s Fiesta to come.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
During the Sunday procession, men wrap the St. Peter statue in ribbons of dollar bills—a gift from Roseanne Dodge, her sister-in-law Mary Ciaramitaro and their families. “We do it in memory of my parents Leo and Lena Ciaramitaro and neice Nicole Ciaramitaro that passed away in a car accident," Dodge says. "My father was a fisherman and he just loved St. Peter’s. He lived every year waiting for St. Peter’s Fiesta to come.” (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The statues and icons of saints are arrayed before Our Lady of Good Voyage Church as a priest leads the Sunday procession crowd in prayer. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The statues and icons of saints are arrayed before Our Lady of Good Voyage Church as a priest leads the Sunday procession crowd in prayer. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Jacob Belcher carries a replica of the Fiesta’s St. Peter statue during the “Orchard Street Annual Fiesta Celebration” on Saturday. This mini Fiesta within the larger festival was founded by his aunt, Robyn McNair, (center) and mother, Amy Belcher. They're known as the “Crazy Hat Ladies” for the elaborate headgear they make and wear featuring miniature replicas of Fiesta landmarks. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Jacob Belcher carries a replica of the Fiesta’s St. Peter statue during the “Orchard Street Annual Fiesta Celebration” on Saturday. This mini Fiesta within the larger festival was founded by his aunt, Robyn McNair, (center) and mother, Amy Belcher. They're known as the “Crazy Hat Ladies” for the elaborate headgear they make and wear featuring miniature replicas of Fiesta landmarks. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The Dirty Oars crew wins the semifinal of the junior seine boat race in Gloucester Harbor on Saturday. The St. Peter’s Fiesta rowing competition is inspired by a traditional fishing technique. “This is a fisherman’s race,” announcer Tom Brancaleone said. “If your oar breaks, keep going. If your man falls overboard, keep going.” The following day the Dirty Oars would win the final as well. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
The Dirty Oars crew wins the semifinal of the junior seine boat race in Gloucester Harbor on Saturday. The St. Peter’s Fiesta rowing competition is inspired by a traditional fishing technique. “This is a fisherman’s race,” announcer Tom Brancaleone said. “If your oar breaks, keep going. If your man falls overboard, keep going.” The following day the Dirty Oars would win the final as well. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Lenny Taormina III is hugged by his mother Brenda after winning the St. Peter’s Fiesta Saturday Greasy Pole competition. "I'm blessed to get this," he said of winning. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Lenny Taormina III is hugged by his mother Brenda after winning the St. Peter’s Fiesta Saturday Greasy Pole competition. "I'm blessed to get this," he said of winning. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

Greg Cook Twitter Arts Reporter
Greg Cook was an arts reporter and critic for WBUR's The ARTery.

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