The feast commemorates an 1892 miracle which occurred in the farming village of Toreannugta, Italy. At that time, farmers were in the midst of a 19-month drought. They prayed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, seeking relief from the drought and their prayers were answered when rain came on Our Lady’s Feast Day of July 16.
The event in Westerly was founded by 12 charter members: Antonio Trebisacci Sr., Frank Regine, Pasquale Pellegrino, Natale Emanuel, F. Samuel Nardone, Frank Toscano, Antonio Turco, Nicolo Lupica, Nicholas Ferringo, Joseph Turco, Natale Turco and John Salimeno. The men raised money to purchase the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which is carried in a procession through the streets of the North End of town.
Until the 1950s, the statue was carried on a platform by teams of six men. Now, the statue is placed on a mobile trailer and pushed along the procession’s route.
Many families have been involved in the feast for years, especially during the war years as a sacrifice in hopes that their sons and daughters would return safely home from the war. Some women have marched barefoot for the 3-mile trek.
The bell from the old Immaculate Conception church, currently the George Kent Performance Hall, was taken from the bell tower and mounted in front of the new church. The bell will be rung during all Masses. The complete schedule of the festival is:
Today at 7 p.m.: Mass with Fr. Joseph Pescatello, with the crowning of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and infant Jesus.
Thursday at 7 p.m.: Healing Mass with Fr. Michael Najim.
Friday at 7 p.m.: English and Italian Mass with Fr. Francis Santilli, followed by candlelight procession with refreshments after the procession.
Sunday at 7 a.m.: Mass honoring deceased member of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Committee and attended by present-day committee members.
Sunday at 11 a.m.: Solemn High Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Fr. Don Roberto Franco-Coppa, followed by the annual street procession and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Sunday at 7 p.m.: A concert by the Westerly Band will be held at Cimalore Field, followed by a fireworks display. In case of rain, the celebration will be held Monday.
Anyone wishing to help push the wagon carrying the stature should call Frank Antoch at 401-596-3833. The public is cordially invited to participate in or attend the feast.