It is an historical tradition enacted by fishing communities throughout the world and introduced to Australia by Italian and Greek migrants – the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Sydney Fish Markets, whose trawlers have been operated by the Italian Bagnato family since mid-last century, has embraced this tradition making it an integral part of their yearly calendar of events.
This year, the ceremony will take place on Sunday 17th September, beginning at 10:15am with the procession of Madonna S.S. Maria di Porto Salvo. This iconic statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the child Jesus represents Our Lady as protector of fishermen, an image that is particularly revered in Southern Italy where the tradition originated.
The large statue is mounted on a bier – a platform attached to two horizontal poles and carried by four men – and follows the parish priest (with a procession behind) to the fishing vessels where the blessing takes place.
Sunday’s procession will be accompanied by the Giuseppe Verdi Band and will end at Blackwattle Bay Wharf where the highly decorated boats of the trawl fleet will receive the blessing from the priest.
The ceremony will be followed by an afternoon of live music, face painting, the always popular and feisty Spaghetti Eating Contest and lots more fun. From midday to 3pm, a floating stage moored alongside the boardwalk will feature artists including Latin Vibes, Platinum, Grant Galea and Adam Scicluna.
[NB: As the Blackmore’s Sydney Running Festival is also taking place on Sunday 17th, it is advisable to take note of any road closures and clearways that may impact your journey. Click here to see how this could affect your trip.]
Blessing Of The Fleet, Sunday 17th September, 10:00am – 3pm.
Visit: SFM -Events

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