The Madonna Della Cava Society of Boston’s North End
At the beginning of the 20th century, a huge wave of Italian immigrants came to the United States. Many settled in Boston’s North End, which was at that time a predominantly Jewish, Irish and Portuguese neighborhood. The villagers from Pietraperzia congregated mostly on Battery, Charter and Hanover Streets, and on Salutation Alley. They brought with them both their faith in the Madonna Della Cava and their traditional celebration in her honor.
Thus, on the second week of each August, the North End celebrates the Feast of Madonna Della Cava, which coincides with the festival held in Pietraperzia, Sicily. A beautiful cloth banner bearing the Madonna’s image is carried throughout the neighborhood during the procession to collect money and valuables donated by the citizenry. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, a special raffle was held and the prize was a lamb, representing sacrifice. The traditional use of a cloth banner of the saint – rather than a statue – is based on the belief that a statue will fall and crack, just like the stone bearing the image of the Madonna once did so many centuries ago.
In the early 1950s, the members of the Society of the Madonna Della Cava erected a Chapel at 3 Battery Street (with a back entrance on Salutation Alley), where members could pray at the shrine of the Madonna. In 1988, they renovated the upper Chapel and added a lower Society room which is large enough to host Christmas parties and other celebrations.
For many decades, the Feast of the Madonna Della Cava has been celebrated in Boston’s North End, initially by members who were all first-generation Italian-Americans. Eventually, many of these original members passed away and their children moved out of the neighborhood. The Society’s membership now includes people from several other Boston neighborhoods and the surrounding suburbs, many of whose relatives first settled in the North End.
The Society of the Madonna Della Cava welcomes support of every kind. The events held by the Society during the year sponsor several community children and religious organizations.
Second Weekend of August
Madonna Della Cava Society
Battery & Hanover Streets
Friday 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Saturday & Sunday 12:00pm – 11:00 pm
Hanover St. Between Charter St. & Commercial St.