Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Coming up in just a few days is the Dance of the Giglio, highlight of the feast of St. Paulinus of Nola at Our Lady of Carmel Catholic church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I've taught about it several times in my Religious Geography of NY class, but never had a chance to attend. Very excited! The giglio (lily) is a tall portable shrine to San Paolino complete with a brass band, hoisted and bounced by 120 men along an ever-changing route through the neighborhood. It came to Brooklyn along with its saint in the baggage of immigrants and has become one of the biggest Italian American festivals. (The photo is from 1962, found here.) It's going strong back home in Italy, too, where there are still eight separate gigli, one from each part of town. The image below is taken from a video of one of this year's gigli (they continue their battle for supremacy online!). Lived religion indeed - while the Williamsburg giglio is full of Italianalia, this one's got a sax combo and the iconic image of Che Guevara!

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