In 1926, a Gloucester fishing captain by the name of Salvatore Favazza commissioned a Charlestown sculptor to fashion a statue of St. Peter, the patron saint of Catholic fishermen. The statue would be the centerpiece of an annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, much like those in Favazza’s native Sicily, honoring and thanking the saint for his protection and support.
It began as a neighborhood festival in Gloucester’s waterfront Fort neighborhood (named for actual forts built there beginning around the time of the American Revolution), where Sicilian immigrants settled at the turn of the 20th century. Last weekend the community, lead by the descendents of the founding families, celebrated its 86th annual Fiesta. It’s grown into a city-wide celebration featuring parades of statues and paintings through the streets, rowing races, the blessing of the city’s commercial fishing fleet, Greasy Pole contests (pictured above), a Mass, a carnival, and nine evenings of prayer.
Throughout the weekend, you can hear the faithful still holler, “Me chi samiou, duté mute?” (“Shout it louder, are we all mute?”), and the response, “Viva San Pietro!”
This article was originally published on July 01, 2013.
This program aired on July 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.