St. Joseph, New Orleans and Italy

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

A past Italian humanitarian crisis gave rise to kinship between New Orleans and Italy.

Cross cultural imprints are obvious from the assimilation and acculturation. "NOLA" is the acronym for New Orleans, Louisiana. "Nola" is a town in Naples, Italy. Naples is in the southern region of Italy. New Orleans is in the southern region of the United States. New Orleans and Italy are both international tourist destinations where, culture is vibrant, merry making is abundant, locals and tourist indulge in good food, spirits and entertainment.

This St. Josephs' Day New Orleans and Italy have something else in common. They are both being decimated as the epicenters of the Coronavirus pandemic. Given the concurrence of events, there is an aura of history repeating itself. St. Josephs' Day is a tradition that began in the late 1800's when Sicilian immigrants from Italy settled in New Orleans. Catholics have celebrated St. Josephs' Day on March 19th every year to honor the relief St. Joseph gave to the Italians during the famine in Sicily, Italy. A famine is a severe food shortage caused by several factors including war and leads to hunger, malnourishment, starvation and high mortality rates.

This St. Josephs' Day, New Orleans and Italy's resilience is being tested. Their death tolls skyrocketing. All vestiges of normalcy gone. Italy is the epicenter of the world with 41,000 Coronavirus cases and 4,105 deaths. Yesterday, Italy reported a staggering 475 Coronavirus deaths in a single day. The significant community spreading in New Orleans is comparable to Italy. New Orleans went from zero to one hundred Coronavirus cases in the span of 72 hours 3 days and, nine days later, New Orleans had 392 cases and 10 deaths. Like Italy, New Orleans was declared a hotspot, an epicenter and placed under lockdown, social distance and quarantine orders. I meditate and pray daily for relief and healing for the world.

Remarkably, the Italian people prevailed during these tempestuous times. The Italians began to sing, from their windows, sing from their balconies, sing from their doorways and sing on the streets days before St. Joseph's Day. In the midst of tragedy it was a beautiful sight to behold. The Italians resilience, communal spirit, use of music as a healer and the ties that bind the community bear striking resemblance to New Orleans. Italy, the most devastated place during the pandemic was a beacon of light, a source of positive energy and boosted the morale of the world. I rejoiced. I laughed. I cried. I replayed Italy's viral sensation over and over. I was grateful for the Italians humanity. I was inspired by the Italians unbreakable spirit. I was proud of the Italians courage to Sing ... sing loud, sing proud, sing across borders and sing across cultures infusing Hope.

In New Orleans on St. Josephs’ Day, it is a tradition for the Black Masking Indians and the community to convene at sundown Uptown with the The Creole Wild West the oldest Black Masking Indian Tribe, convene Downtown in historic Treme and come together as a community to chant (sing), pay homage to ancestry, culture and history. Although St. Joseph's Day festivities were cancelled this year, it is important that New Orleans continues to sing during the Coronavirus pandemic to document this historic time in world history, in our culture, in our communities, in our families and in our lives.

Preghiere per New Orleans, l'Italia e il mondo.

Cosette Richard

19th of March 2020

St. Joseph Day