Sunday, July 10, 2011

The saints come marching

When I mentioned to someone that I was going to see the Dance of the Giglio, a festival brought over to Brooklyn from Nola, she said "Nola - New Orleans?" It's the Italian Nola but she was more right than she knew: the statue of St. Paulino of Nola was hurried out of Our Lady of Mount Carmel before the morning mass for the lifters (presumably to commune with his brother avatars atop the giglio and the barca, waiting to be lifted and danced through Havemeyer Street out front) and then brought festively back following a brass band playing - what else? - "When the saints come marching in." (Only slowly did we realize
that many saints were already in the house - the chapel next to the nave was filled with at least two dozen life-sized saints and figures of Jesus, Mary, angels, etc.) Paulinus doesn't want for company!

A banner recalling giglio festivals past...

Papier-mâché raised to the level of art: the 2011 Williamsburg giglio and a clever 1996 Nola giglio from a poster

La barca, 2011

Fresh zeppole in a paper bag

Arm of the capo leading the lifters of la barca

Off to meet the giglio, to the Giglio Song

At some point I want to get to the bottom of the symbols here. Why a Turk, leading Paolino's boat back to Nola? The story told of Paolino in the documentary "Heaven touches Brooklyn in July" manages to include elements of the stories of the Biblical Joseph (slave who interprets king's dream) and Moses (let my people go), not to mention an enslaving Muslim North Africa, though Paolino was a contemporary of Augustine. Meanwhile from a comparative religion standpoint a festival where jiggling pillar meets boat seems like it's about something else again...

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