117th Annual Feast of Maria SS. Lauretana – Italian Festival in Niles, Illinois

One of the oldest festival running in the Chicagoland area is Maria SS. Lauretana or mostly know as “Volata” or “Flight of the Angels,” some also called one of the largest Italian festival, a tradition held in Chicago by Italian-American community.

The festival takes place on Golf Mill Park in Niles over Labor Day weekend, a four day event of religious feast and entertainment.

It was my first time to witness this 117 year old tradition and one of the festival highlight is the Flight of the Angels and a group of men will carry the Vera (an old wooden altar with Virgin Mary) and pulling of a large ship during procession.
At the end of the procession, two young girls dressed like angels will fly over the crowd (both are tied and secured to fly high above) and will offer a prayer (Italian religious song).

In 1600s, an image of Virgin Mary was looted by pirates. While traveling to Sicilian coast, the pirates found the painting in a barrel. Because they believed that the portrait they carried caused violent seas, they tossed it over near Sicilian town in “Altavilla, Milicia.” The story continued when they found the portrait of Mary washed up and the people in the village started to build a church with the recovered relic from the ship.

Immigrants from Sicily carry on the tradition in Chicago and later on the festival moved to other suburb areas including Niles and Rosemont.

On the other side of the street are food vendors, carnival rides, live band performances and fireworks display.

Italian food trip: Lemon ice, mini donuts, pepperoni pizza and linguine pasta at Maria SS Lauretana Festival

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The rides – Maria SS Lauretana is a traditional Italian Festival

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And, I captured everything on video! Please have time to watch and enjoy the fireworks display at the end.