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Italian Procession

Eliza Pimlott, a reader, passes a procession, takes some pictures and sends them to us - with some words

Published on July 1st 2009.

Italian Procession

Sunday saw the annual Italian Procession through Manchester. You had to come upon it largely by chance as the publicity for the event leaves something to be desired.

It was great fun, with many people dressed in traditional costume and talking to each other in English and in Italian.

I found it while walking past the Tourist Information Centre in St Peter’s Square, drawn in by an abundance of fake flowers. These turned out to be part of the decoration for the Madonna of the Rosary.

The few hundred people made up the parade itself and along with brass bands and group of pipers, drew a good crowd of onlookers. It was great fun, with many people dressed in traditional costume and talking to eachother in English and in Italian. Given the effort it’s odd that the procession sort of creeps up upon the city with so little notice. Or maybe that’s the way it should be, a simple celebration for the community itself.

The parade was started in 1890 by Father Lyman, a local priest, tohelp unite the Italian community in Manchester. At that time it had astrong religious focus, pride of place being given to the statue ofthe Madonna brought over from Italy. The icons still form the main attraction today with the Calvary scene and the St John and the Madonna bedecked with flowers and ribbons.

Manchester’s Italian community dates from the nineteenth century, when the poor economic situation in southern Italy, led many to emigrate. In Manchester the Ancoats area became ‘Little Italy’ as the numbers of émigrés swelled. It became well-known for several ‘ice cream’ families, the Granellis, the Scappaticcis and others.

You can find out more about the Italian community on www.ancoatslittleitaly.com This gives an excellent little history of the Manchester Italians, the way they lived and what happened to it.

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