Chicagoland

125 years of celebrating Our Lady of Mount Carmel

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
June 6, 2018

125 years of celebrating Our Lady of Mount Carmel

For 125 years, members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Melrose Park have celebrated the July 16 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with a procession through the streets of the community.
Phyllis Aiuppa is assisted by a police officer as she approaches the statue during a procession to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Melrose Park on June 27, 2009. The shrine was granted special permission by the pope to incoronate the statue of Mary. A papal coronation to the Blessed Mother is a rare privilege that only four other Marian images in the United States have been granted. Parishioners collected gold and money to fabricate the new crowns. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Parishioners process with family memorials in Melrose Park on July 17, 2016, as part of Our of Lady of Mount Carmel Parish’s annual festival. The event, which honors their church’s patron, draws thousands from the Italian-American community for a novena, Masses, processions and festival. (Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic)

For 125 years, members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Melrose Park have celebrated the July 16 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with a procession through the streets of the community.

Parishioners will continue that tradition this year on July 15 with a full schedule of devotions and celebrations. The 9 a.m. Mass that Sunday will be celebrated by Cardinal Cupich. Following that Mass, at 10:30 a.m., the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be carried through the streets, returning to the church grounds at 1101 N. 23rd Ave., Melrose Park, at noon for a field Mass.

The statue will be taken to the streets for an afternoon procession at 1:30 p.m., returning to the church at 4 p.m. for Benediction. Music for the processions will be provided by the Sicilian Band of Chicago and Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana.

According to “Evviva La Festa!”, a 2016 book that tells the story of the Chicago Italian religious festivals, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration in Melrose Park began with a woman named Emmanuella DeStefano, who prayed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the protector of her Italian hometown of Laurenzana, Italy, to heal her husband. She promised the saint to hold a feast in her honor if her husband recovered. He did, and she raised the money to have artist Raffaele della Campa create a replica of the statue, which is of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, from Laurenzana. 

That statue has been the centerpiece of the processions since 1894. 

In 2009, the parish had crowns made for each of the figures from donated gold pieces. Those crowns received a papal blessing.

The feast day devotions cap a novena beginning July 6, with prayers offered by Dominican Father Brian Walker each evening from July 6 through 14 at 7:30 p.m. During the novena, parish groups will present their banners to Our Lady on July 10 at 7 p.m., parishioners will offer roses to the Madonna July 11 at 6 p.m., and there will be a memorial service for deceased members of the Feast Committee July 12 at 7 p.m.

The outdoor festival, with food, live music and carnival games and rides begins July 12 at 5 p.m., with $25 unlimited ride wristbands for kids on the evening of June 12 and the afternoon of June 14. Also on June 14, the festival will have an outdoor classic car show and a local animal rescue organization will have dogs available for adoption. There will be live entertainment each evening and dozens of local vendors selling food. 

For more information, visit olmcparish.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/OLMCJune2018-ad.jpg.

Topics:

  • our lady of mount carmel
  • festivals

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