The Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Jul. 17, 2009 8:48 am
Updated: Aug. 10, 2009 4:50 pm
Hello to my AR family!!
According to Catholic history, on July 16, 1251, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock (or Friar Stock, as he was known at the time) on Mount Carmel in Israel. Catholics around the world now commemorate this appearance each year on July 16th. Some churches simply hold a special mass on that date, while other churches have a festival, somewhat like a street faire, that lasts the whole week in which July 16th falls.
When my father was a boy, his Catholic family lived in Astoria, a neighborhood of Queens in New York. Every year on July 16th, they would attend the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in the Bronx. Their family made it a tradition to always eat pizza for dinner that evening while attending the festival and to have Italian ice for dessert. After they moved to California when my father was a teenager, they couldn't find a church that celebrated July 16th other than holding a special mass, so they simply kept up the tradition of having pizza and Italian ices every year on that date. My father continued that tradition in our family and still reminds my siblings and me a day or two in advance that "pizza day" is coming soon! One year, when I was traveling with a carnival company for the summer, my father couldn't get in touch with me to remind me about July 16th...and I forgot about it. But guess what! When I talked to him a few days after that, I thought back and realized that I had eaten pizza for dinner that day anyway! My subconscious must have known that I needed to continue the family tradition :-)
When my dad learned that my daughters and I would be in New York in the Bronx on July 16th this year, he asked me to check to see if Our Lady of Mount Carmel church still existed and if they still celebrated the appearance of the Virgin Mary on July 16th. I was delighted to learn that they do still exist and the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a week-long festival now! I was so excited, because my daughters and I would be able to attend an event that my dad had been to many times as a child...and at the same location he attended it!
Because I wanted to stay with our family's tradition, I took the girls to the festival yesterday, July 16th. It was so much fun! There were street vendors selling all kinds of trinkets. Even though I couldn't afford to purchase much of anything, the girls and I had a great time looking at all the beautiful items offered for sale. There was a small carnival, too, but the rides weren't running on weekdays. I promised the girls we would try to go back today so they could ride the rides, even though there are only three of them. They did get to play a game where they threw darts at balloons and were guaranteed a prize no matter what. It cost me $10 for them to play, but they each got a really cute teddy bear that was probably worth close to $5.00, so it was worth what it cost to let them "win" it.
There was live entertainment, but it was a type of music we don't particularly enjoy, so after watching the band for a little while, we wandered back up the street and went to take a peek inside the church. There was a mass in progress, so we just looked through the windows so we wouldn't interrupt the service. It was beautiful! I love how ornately decorated some Catholic churches are. I know some other religions/denominations may call it ostentacious, but I like to think that the Catholics are trying their best to make God's house the most beautiful place they can, because He deserves nothing less than the very best we are able to give Him.
Last but not least...THE FOOD!!! Oh my goodness! I have never seen so much deliciousness packed into two short blocks in my entire life! There was sausage and peppers, chicken and steak skewers, gyro sandwiches, roasted corn, ice cream, Italian ice, pizza, empanadas, fresh fruit smoothies, desserts beyond your wildest imagination, deep fried Oreos, and an Italian pastry called "Zeppola" (pronounced "TZEH-puh-luh"), which my grandmother used to make when my father was a child. On one corner of the street was a pastry shop where we bought cannoli. I hadn't had cannoli in about 5 years! Thank goodness I don't have a credit card, because that pastry shop had so many delicious looking pastries and I wouldn't have been able to resist charging "just a few (hundred!)" LOL! We stuffed ourselves so full of delicious, NON-nutritious goodies during the evening that we could barely make it to the bus stop to come back to the apartment...and yes, we did have pizza and Italian ices! Maybe it was a GOOD thing the rides weren't running, huh? LOL!
I have to say that this was one of the greatest highlights of our trip here to New York, second only to getting to spend the Fourth of July on Liberty Island, seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and personal...a day I promise to blog about soon.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I wish you and yours the very best in all your endeavors.