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Mass for the Lady of Sorrows at Saint Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst

Old country tradition marches on in Bensonhurst, even if the procession doesn't

Brooklyn Daily
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Having a good time: Salvatore LaRocca, 18 months, of Dyker Heights dances at Saint Athanasius Church’s celebration.
Brooklyn princess: Chiara Marangelli, 18, of Dyker Heights is this year’s “Regina,” or princess of Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figlia Maria S.S. Addolorata.
Dressed for the occasion: Maria Lieggi, Antonia Capobianco, and Gabrielle Capobianco of Bensonhurst wore T-shirts bearing the image of the Lady of Sorrows to Saturday’s event.
Leading lady: Anna Nicole Deliso, 18, of Bensonhurst is this year’s Miss Mola.

An old-world Italian tradition lived on at a Bensonhurst church on Sept. 8 — even though the traditional statue carrying didn’t.

Rain prevented the Procession of Maria S.S. Addolorata — the bearing of a statue representing the Virgin Mary in the moment of Christ’s crucifixion, called the Lady of Sorrows — from Saint Athanasius Church on 61st Street and Bay Parkway through the neighborhood, but the mass and celebration went on.

“We waited until the Madonna was supposed to go out, but we didn’t do it because it was pouring,” said Lucrezia Nardulli, who helped bring the centuries-old tradition to Brooklyn from her native Moli di Bari, Italy by starting the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figlia Maria S.S. Addolorata at the church five years ago.

Still, the service went forward — as did the after-party, where two young women from the community, Chiara Marangelli and Anna Nicole Deliso, were named Regina of the Associazione and Miss Mola, respectively.

It was all part of Nardulli’s goals to bring more Italian-American youth and the traditions from the old country into the church.

“We are trying to develop a tradition and to help the community stay together,” Nardulli said. “Little by little, people do not participate anymore and we see Italians here moving out.”

Monsignor David Cassato, who gave the mass, praised the faith and passion of Nardulli and her group.

“The mass was beautiful, a magnificent sign of devotion these people from Moli di Bari to our Lady of Sorrows,” Cassato said. “They’ve done a fine job of keeping the tradition alive.”

John Napoli, a Dyker Heights resident who said he goes to the procession every year, was also impressed.

“This is a tradition they’ve been doing for a thousand years and they’re keeping it alive. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s how Southern Italians express their religion and their spirtuality,” he said.

Nardulli said she and her group were still considering holding the formal procession sometime in the next two weeks.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter at

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