I took a ride out to the City of Hazelton, Pennsylvania with my good friends, brothers Patrick & Anthony. Patrick had being mentioning for a few weeks about this special feast in honor of San Mauro Abate held at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
To be honest, I never heard of Hazelton until Patrick mentioned it. But it turns out many Italian immigrants from the Cilento area of Southern Italy settled on Nanny Goat Hill in this once booming mine city in northeastern Pennsylvania. The city has changed much since the boom years of Italian immigration. The residents still try to keep a tight knit community, but it is getting harder as the youngsters are moving into bigger cities look for work and opportunity much the same way their ancestors did.
According to the festival goers that we talked to, many said that the feast has gotten smaller over the years, but there are still families that come back to partake in the festivities and celebrate their Patron Saint, San Mauro Abate.
After the 10:30 am Mass, the faithful congregate at the entrance to the church as the procession is made ready. The band is driven in a truck. The cinte or candle houses are carried by families. There are also statues of Our Lady of Fatima and San Nazario (Saint Nazarius), who is the Patron Saint of the town of San Nazario (SA). But the distinction and honor of this procession goes to San Mauro, whose actual feast day is January 15. San Mauro Abate (in English St. Maurus the Abbot) is known as being the first disciple of Saint Benedict, who was the Father of Western Monasticism and the author of the “Rule of St. Benedict”.
The procession winded through the streets of the “old neighborhood” before ending with a benediction of the relic of San Mauro back in front of Our Lady of Grace Church. The feast begins after the benediction. We had a very nice multi course lunch of deviled eggs, antipasto salad, ravioli, sausage, ham, rum cake, cheesecake, and a few other things I forgot with a local family. After dinner and conversation, we made a quick visit to the feast before heading back to New Jersey. It was a beautiful day and I pray that the traditions of these devout and faithful Italian Americans can continue into the future.
Evviva San Mauro Abate!
Tagged: church, Cilento, Feast Day, fried dough, Hazelton, Italian, Italian American, Italian feast, Nanny Goat Hill, Our Lady of Grace, Pennsylvania, Roman Catholic, Saint Nazarius, San Mauro, San Mauro Abate, San Mauro la Bruca, San Nazario