This rough assembly of the Feast and the “La Festa dei Gigli” (the Feast of the Lilies) is from the early 1990s.
The yearly ritual is performed in Willamsburg Brooklyn and has been observed by devotees in the area since 1903. The tower featured in the Dance of the Giglio is about 4 tons and stands at about 65 feet.
The story of St. Paulinus which the ritual illustrates is as follows:
“The story, which is passed on through the generations on both sides of the Atlantic, is that around 410 AD, North African pirates overran the town of Nola. In the chaos, Bishop Paolino was able to flee into the countryside with some of the children. Upon his return, Paolino learned, from a sobbing widow that many of the young men, her son included, had been abducted into slavery. Moved to compassion, Paolino offered himself in exchange for the boy and was ferried off, a prisoner of the brigands. While in North Africa, word of the courage and self-sacrifice of Paolinospread and became known to a certain Turkish sultan. Taken with the tale of altruism, the sultan intervened, negotiating for the freedom of this holy man. Through the sultan ‘s efforts, Paolino and his paesani, were freed.
Overjoyed by his safe return, the entire town greeted him carrying lilies, symbolic of love and purity. That joyous homecoming jubilee is considered the very first observance of what would develop into an annual sacred event. Through the years, various trade guilds (farmer(ortolamo), butcher(beccaio), tailor(sarto), breadmaker(panettiere), blacksmith(fabbra), cobblers(calzolaio), deli merchants(salumiere), and wine makers(bettoliere) ) began to compete to produce the most sensational display of lilies. Over time, these displays became more flamboyant.”
From the OLMC Feast Website: http://olmcfeast.com/
An awesome aspect that has happened since this footage was shot is that one can easily witness the same ritual played out through the streets of Nola, Italy.