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February 2 or August 

Saint of the day:
Madonna del Soccorso or Our Lady of Help

Patron Saint of Sciacca, Sicily

Our Lady of Help

The Madonna del Soccorso, (which means Lady of Help) became the Patroness of Sciacca after the citizens believed, it was through her intercession, that a plague that had broken out in Sicily 500 years ago, came to an end.

In the year of our Lord 1300, an Augustinian monk by the name of Nicolo Bruno lay ill in bed with severe fevers and a broken neck. One night he received a vision of a woman of radiant beauty, who said to him, "I am The Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca (The Lady of Help of Sciacca). I have come to your town of Sciacca to aid and assist the people." She then told him to get up from bed and spread her message to the people of the town. Miraculously the monk rose from his bed free from fever and healed of a broken neck. Nicolo Bruno spent the rest of his years telling his story and spreading the message of the Blessed Virgin.

Nicolo Bruno was not without his critics however, many attributed his 'vision" to his high fevers. No one could explain though the miraculous healing of his broken neck. As the peoples acceptance of this story grew their devotion to the Madonna also grew, as result more miracles were attributed to the Blessed Lady. One such miracle took place when a six-year-old boy misbehaved for his mother. The boy, like most six-year-olds, was full of energy and getting on his mother's nerves. In a rage, the mother shouted to her son "go to the devil you little pest." Suddenly the devil appeared and grabbed the boy. The mother realizing what she had done and truly sorry called on the Madonna del Soccorso to rescue her son from the hands of Satan.

Miraculously the Madonna del Soccorso dressed in a white and gold robe and carrying a wooden club appeared. In one sweep of the club the Blessed Lady hit the devil and knocked him to the ground. The boy now released ran not to his mother but ran instead to Madonna del Soccorso, under whose cape he hid. The Blessed Mother with the boy still under Her cape walked over to the Devil and stood on top of him.

She then turned to the boy's mother and said, 'Put your trust in Madonna del Soccorso for I am the protector of Sciacca. " Then releasing the boy to his mother She said "Fear not my children for I shall never abandon you.'

Another miracle took place one day when the Blessed Virgin visited upon a thirteen-year-old girl suffering from paraplegia. The Blessed Lady said to the girl "I am the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca, rise from your bed and tell the town I am here to help them always." The girl then told the Blessed Lady that she was paralyzed and could not get up. The Madonna then told her to touch her belt and she would be able to walk. The girl did as she was told and miraculously went out to tell her story.

In the year 1503, upon the completion of the statue the townspeople of Sciacca were faced with the major problem of transporting the very heavy statue from Palermo to Sciacca. Since Palermo was to the north and Sciacca to the south with no railroads between them, the town decided to use a boat to ship the statue to Sciacca. Unfortunately, there were no transport boats large enough to carry the statue in Palermo or Sciacca. The fishermen of Sciacca realizing that they could help, decided to send their fleet of fishing boats to Palermo and in some way return to Sciacca with the statue of their beloved Madonna. Over two hundred fishermen were needed to carry the statue to the dock where it was then placed on the largest fishing boat available. With such a heavy load as the solid marble statue on board, the fishing boat was barely able to stay afloat let alone move along the seas under its own power. Using their fishing nets and drop lines the fishermen secured their boats to the vessel carrying the statue and in tug boat fashion carefully escorted the statue of the Madonna out of Palermo, across the seas and headed home to Sciacca.

Upon entry into the harbor of Sciacca, the fishermen were greeted with tumultuous applause and gratitude. In recognition of their sacrifice and in gratitude to the fishermen the town of Sciacca rewarded the fishermen with the sole honor of carrying the statue of the Madonna. Till this day, the only people allowed to carry the statue in Sciacca are the fishermen of the town.

In the year 1626, the dreaded Black Plague reached Sciacca. As it had done in the rest of Europe the plague inflicted great pain and suffering to the people of Sciacca. On February 2 1626 the townspeople reaffirming their belief and faith in their protector gathered together in front of the church of St. Augustine and prayed with fervent devotion to Madonna del Soccorso to free them from the plague. As the huge doors to the church were opened to expose the statue of the Madonna a perfumed smelling breeze blew through the town and cleansed the air. Just then, the people who were afflicted by the plague were healthy once more. Again the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca held true to her word and rescued to the town. The town in gratitude placed on the belt of the Madonna the keys to the city. Every year on February 1, from 12 noon until 12 noon February 2 the townspeople fast. After a solemn High Mass, the statue of the Madonna is carried through the streets of Sciacca.

Another miracle occurred in 1817 when Sciacca experienced severe earth tremors throughout the city. The people feared that the old wooden church of St. Augustine might collapse and bury the statue of their beloved Madonna. The fishermen carried the statue into the Town Square away from any falling objects. Suddenly from 3:00 to 8:00 P.M., drops of sweat fell from the forehead of the statue. At 8:00 when the Madonna stopped sweating the earth tremors ceased. Every year when the fishermen carry the statue through the streets of Sciacca the Madonna starts to sweat when she reaches the spot in the square.

The statue of the Madonna del Soccorso was housed in the church of Saint Augustine until 1861, when the Statue was transferred to a church built in her honor "Le Chiesa di Madre del Soccorso di Sciacca."

On August 15 1907, the Vatican decreed Madonna del Soccorso the Patroness of Sciacca. " As a result the fishermen hold a huge feast on the Assumption (August 15) every year.







Sciacca, Sicily (February 2)

Boston, MA (August)

The Fisherman's Feast is an annual event that began in Boston in 1910 and is based on a tradition that goes back to the 16th century in Sciacca Sicily. The Feast is based on the devotion of the fishermen from Sciacca to the Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Help). When the fishermen immigrated to America in the early 1900's, they brought their traditions with them. Today's Feast is much the same as it was over 100 years ago with lights adorning the street and the smell of sausage in the air. The current Feast is organized by the descendants of those original immigrants and still includes a procession of the Madonna through the streets of the North End.

Each August since 1910, the Feast has been held in Boston's historic North End on North and Fleet Streets, making it the North End's oldest continuously running Italian festival. The Feast traditionally starts on Thursday when the statue of the Madonna is moved from her home in the Fisherman's Club to a chapel at the center of the feast. This will be her home throughout the weekend. Thursday is also when the fishermen that founded the Feast are remembered with a blessing of the fishing waters. Each night and during weekend days there is entertainment on the bandstand and vendors selling food (Italian sausages, calamari, pizza, pasta and much more) as well as crafts. The Feast culminates on Sunday night with the spectacular "Flight of the Angel".




Today we are going to enjoy some New England iconic favorites! We have done tons of Italian and Sicilian recipes but we rarely get to enjoy American food so sit back and put that "lobsta" bib on!

New England Lobster Clambake

There are not to many things that make my husband smile like lobsters...maybe porchetta but in the summer it is a month of lobsters, lobsters, lobsters!!! This New England clambake, made with clams, lobster, sweet corn, and potatoes, is a summer classic that's easy to make at home. 


  • 1 cup cold water

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  • 4 garlic cloves smashed

  • 1 red onion roughly chopped

  • 2 pounds new potatoes halved

  • Two (1 1/2-to 2-pound) lobsters

  • 2 dozen Manila clams

  • 4 ears fresh corn cut into quarters

  • Small bunch tarragon or flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter melted

  • Crusty bread

  • 6 lemons halved or cut into wedges



  1. In a ginormous pot, bring the water, wine, salt, and garlic to a boil.

  2. Toss the onion and potatoes in the pot, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.

  3. Nestle the lobsters on the onion and potatoes, cover the pot again, and cook for 3 minutes.

  4. Add the clams and corn and continue to cook, still covered, until the clams have opened, 8 to 10 minutes.

    ☞TESTER TIP: If you happen to be doing your clambake in a pot that's set on a rack over an open grill, go ahead and instead toss the corn and the cut lemon directly on the rack to impart a slight smokiness to the final dish.

  5. Carefully remove the pot from the heat and drain the cooking liquid. Remove and discard any clams that haven't opened.

  6. Tip the contents of the pot onto a table lined with newspaper or butcher paper or transfer to a large platter. (If your guests can't be trusted to be amicable about splitting the lobsters, you may wish to cut each one in half prior to serving.) Sprinkle everything with the herbs and set out small bowls of melted butter along with some crusty bread and lemon wedges and dishes or small buckets so folks have a place to toss the spent shells. Don't forget gobs of napkins.

Note: Totally optional and more of a Maryland flavor add 2 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning.

Note: And yes, the best way to serve melted butter is in a Bunn Coffee Pot, simply brilliant! Thanks Searsport Camp Grounds!


New England Lobster Mac & Cheese!

If you still have to have a pasta then there is no better than classic Mac and Cheese made the adult way with lobsters!


For the Lobster

  • 5 lobster tails Go up to 6 tails if you want it super meaty

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter divided

  • 1 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning

For the Pasta

  • 8 cups water

  • 1 lb cavatappi pasta

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded gruyere

  • 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 2 tsp minced garlic

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 2 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 2 1/4 cup whole milk

  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder

For the Assembly

  • 2 large eggs beaten

  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs

  • Chopped parsley for garnish


For the Lobster

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut lobster tails in half vertically and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of lobster tails with butter then sprinkle with cajun seasoning.

  3. Bake for 10 minutes or until they develop a beautiful color then remove from shells. Roughly chop lobster into large chunks in a medium sized bowl and pour remaining butter from the baking sheet over the lobster and set aside.

  4. Lower temperature on oven to 375 degrees.

For the Pasta

  1. Next add water in a large pot along with some salt and boil pasta according to the package.  Drain and set aside.

For the Cheese Sauce

  1. Toss all shredded cheeses together in a large bowl and set aside.

  2. Add olive oil to pan and heat over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute then add 3 more tablespoons of butter to the pan and allow to melt down.

  3. Quickly whisk in flour and cook for approximately 1 minute.

  4. Pour in heavy cream and whole milk continuing to whisk.

  5. Next add onion powder , garlic powder, dry mustard, paprika and cayenne continuing to whisk.

  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Stir in half of shredded cheeses and allow them to melt continuing to stir.

To Assemble

  1. Once cheese melts down, turn off heat. Add beaten eggs and 1 tablespoon of butter to pasta. Toss everything together until butter has melted. Add pasta to a 9x13 inch baking sheet and stir in beaten eggs and 1 tablespoon of butter.

  2. Add pasta to 9x13 inch baking sheet. Next pour as much of the cheese sauce as you would like (for super cheesy, use it all) and half of the lobster to the pasta and mix super well.

  3. Next spread remaining lobster over top of mac and cheese.  Top with remaining shredded cheeses leaving the lobster pieces bare so they will be seen once baked.  P.S. Add extra shredded cheese to the top of this dish if you want it to be super cheesy and have all the cheese pulls.

  4. Finally in a small bowl, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add breadcrumbs and toss together.

  5. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top leaving the lobster mostly bare so it peeks through and bake at 375 for 27-35 minutes.

  6. Rest for 10 minutes, sprinkle with parsley then serve.


TIP 1: Cold water lobsters have firm, whiter meat that makes for tastier, more tender bites.
TIP 2: Use room temperature milk to avoid seizing and clumping.
TIP 3: Taste as you go! Seasoning is always based on preference. A little extra paprika or garlic never hurt anyone.

TIP 4: Don’t use pre-shredded cheese; it’s drier and will not melt as easily. Instead, buy in blocks and shred them yourself.


Maine Rum Punch

  • 3 oz Bacardi Superior Rum

  • 1.5 oz Bacardi Black Rum

  • 0.75 oz Grenadine

  • 3 oz Orange Juice

  • 3 oz Pineapple Juice

  • 1.5 oz Cranberry Juice



Serves 3 - Recommended serving vessel, 24 oz pitcher

1. In a large container, combine all liquid ingredients.

Refrigerate until chilled.

Just before serving, pour into a pitcher, stirring in ice.

2. Serve in a glass filled with cracked ice.

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