He’s waiting to come through the closet.
And it will take at least three men to move him.
It should work out. They’ve been doing it for 114 years.
Their happy burden is a 400-pound pewter statue of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron saint of Amalfi. He resides in his own chapel off the main sanctuary of St. Michael’s, the historic church that has anchored the Wooster Square Italian community for generations. He comes out once a year and into the main sanctuary to kick off the annual St. Andrew’s celebrations in Wooster Square.
He’ll be coming out soon into the main sanctuary fora once-a-year Wooster Square “festa” or festival celebrating the descendants of the original immigrants from Amalfi. The annual celebration features special masses of thanksgiving marking how, according to tradition, the saint in 1544 rescued Amalfi from invading Turks. The highlight of the saint’s celebration is the local festival or “festa,” which begins Thursday, June 26, at 6 p.m. at the St. Andrew the Apostle Society social club and grounds on Chapel Street near Chestnut.
Click here for a full schedule of activities that bring together old families and new and in celebrating Amalfitani culture.
Boat Blessings This Sunday
The festival’s opening is preceded by a blessing of the boats in New Haven’s harbor. That will take place this Sunday, June 22, off Long Wharf pier, beginning at 11 a.m.
St. Andrew, by trade a fisherman, is also involved in Sunday’s blessing of the fleet. But not the 400 pound statue representing him. Not only is the original very heavy lifting, members of the St. Andrew the Apostle Society men’s and women’s divisions, who organize the events, don’t want to risk an accident at sea during the blessing.
That’s why for at least 90 years now, the societies have been using a wooden facsimile of the statue for the ceremony of the blessing.
This coming Sunday morning Andy Calabrese and his strong sons Andy, Jr. and Frank, will drive a pick up truck to the club. They’ll be joined by others as they transport the facsimile from the society’s club house on Chapel Street to the harbor.
There, an officiant from St. Michael’s Church will orchestrate the loading of the statue onto a boat. The boat then goes out into the harbor, positions itself before a line of working and pleasure boats that process before it for a blessing; the blessing is communicated through words and holy water.
Click here for a story of the blessing of the boats from from previous years.
This year’s chairs of the festa are Theresa Argento and Anthony Abbagnaro. The society honors one man and one woman each year by giving them the job of unveiling the facsimile statue of St. Andrew at the festa’s opening ceremonies.
This year honors are going to Josephine Esposito and Andy Calabrese.
Calabrese has been a musician in his father’s band, the High Toppers, which has played for the festival for decades. He threw himself into a leadership and organizing role in the society when he and his family returned, ten years ago, from experiencing the festival in Amalfi, Italy, reported his wife Fran.