The Ustica Connection

Newsletter of the San Bartolomeo Society Apostolo of New Orleans
Issue 7 - 6 August 2003

On This Day ... 74 Years Ago
By Chris Caravella
The day was August 24, 1929 and the place was Violet in St Bernard Parish. This photograph from the Times-Picayune serves as a striking example of the depth and reach of the Usticesi community throughout our area. When we speak of “cultural restoration”, our goal is to restore not only the physical artifacts (banners, statues, ex-votos) but also the cohesive sense of community that bound our grandparents. As we meet on this day, we enjoy good company and share stories of family not with strangers but brethren joined by a rich past. Surely, not that different in spirit from 74 years ago.

The text from the 1929 Times-Picayune article accompanying the photograph:

Dance concludes Celebration of Feast of St. Bartholomew
Although rain threatened all of the afternoon, the celebration of the Feast of St. Bartholomew at Violet in St. Bernard parish was brought to a close Saturday afternoon and evening by a parade, fireworks, speeches and a dance. At 4:30 p.m. Saturday the parade formed at Dockville and marched to the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes at Violet. The Rev. Louis Balechou, pastor of the church, and Angelo Luke, grand marshal, led the parade. They were followed by acolytes carrying candles and parishioners carrying the statue of St. Bartholomew. The Italian flag flew side by side with the Stars and Stripes. After the parade refreshments were served and the merrymaking began.

An outstanding feature of the evening's program was a talk by Dr. Paul Rossi, Italian consul-general at New Orleans. He extended to his hearers the greetings of the mother country and told them to be good Americans and at the same time keep in mind the spirit of the old country. He spoke of the recent reconciliation of the church and state. "One can now be both a good Catholic and a good Italian," he said. Other speakers of the evening were the Rev. Raymond Carra, pastor of St. Patrick's church, New Orleans, and Dr. L. A. Meraux, sheriff of the parish.

Saturday's program was concluded by a display of fireworks and a dance. The celebration began Friday night at the church, when Father Carra delivered a sermon on the life of St. Bartholomew. He said the body of the saint now rests in the town of Benevento, Italy, but one of the saint's arms is kept on the Island of Ustica, from which came many of the families of the Violet neighborhood. Thus St. Bartholomew is the patron saint of the island.

The celebration of the Feast of St. Bartholomew is an annual event in this community. Both clergy and parishioners take part and many Italians from New Orleans attend. The festival committee was composed of W. Licciardi, Joseph Mumphrey, Angelo Luke, Anthony Lichardi and M. Lichardi.