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Italian Saint's Festival Links Hollywood to Old World

A traditional church procession moves alongside the glitz of the Walk of Fame.

September 21, 2003|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

The procession that snaked north on Vine Street on Saturday had the trappings of long-ago Europe. A crew of men, young and old, carried a golden bust of a Catholic saint on their shoulders. A stream of supplicants and brightly dressed priests trailed behind.

But the backdrop clearly was modern Los Angeles. Chaperoned by four police officers on bicycles, the procession passed a giant movie theater, the Capitol Records building and the Walk of Fame before stopping near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

In Italy, the days honoring patron saints of towns or villages are often marked with elaborate festivals and processions. Statues of the saints are draped in jewelry and paraded through streets, where they are welcomed with showers of rose petals and confetti.

The procession through Hollywood, and the Mass that preceded it, echoed those traditions, as does the Feast of Gennaro, a street celebration dedicated to all things Italian, being held this weekend on the streets of Hollywood.

New York's festival honoring San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, draws at least a million people each year and is in its 75th year. This is the second event in Los Angeles.

At Mass, held at the Church of Christ the King in Hollywood, priests dedicated a chapel in honor of San Gennaro with incense and prayers.

Then a small group of men carried the golden statue of the saint into the sun- light, placed it on a wooden platform and readied it for travel.

Antonio Cacciapuoti, who presides over Christ the King Church, admonished the marchers to make sure that people along the route knew why the marchers were there.

Most important, he said, he wanted people to see "we're not making a movie in Hollywood -- but it's real."

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