Manchester Italian Association’s historic Madonna del Rosario Procession

This year, for the first time, Caritas Salford was honoured to be invited by Manchester Italian Association to take part in their historic Madonna del Rosario procession, which took place on Sunday 3rd July.  Until the pandemic and apart from the First and Second World War years, the procession has taken place annually for 132 years and is a celebration of the cultural history and heritage of Manchester’s Italian community.
Led by men from the Italian community – carrying a large statue of Our Lady of the Rosary after whom the procession is named – and followed by children who had recently made their First Holy Communion, the procession set off from the area known as Little Italy in Ancoats and headed towards St Peter’s Square.  The traffic was halted and many hundreds lined the route, waving, clapping and joyful to see the return of the procession to the centre of Manchester after a three-year gap.
Many parishes and faith organisations took part, together with the Lord Mayor of Manchester, the ceremonial Mayor of Salford, pipe bands from Oldham and Accrington, St John’s Brass Band and the Bury Fire Choir.
Bishop John Arnold represented the Diocese of Salford, and our own Caritas team – together with Fr Ged Murphy, Episcopal Vicar for Caritas – were proud to walk together and carry the Caritas banner in honour of all the people we have the privilege to serve.  A number of people stopped us to say how pleased they were to see us taking part and making known the name and work of Caritas.
After a welcome break for ice cream in St Peter’s Square, everyone took up their banners again for the return procession to St Michael’s on George Leigh Street, where there was a short prayer service led by Fr Ged to give thanks for the return of such a wonderful public witness of faith, heritage and culture.
Tired but happy to have shared such an enjoyable afternoon with friends and colleagues, we had no hesitation in agreeing to take part again next year!  It would be great to have an even bigger Caritas team in 2023’s procession, so please put Sunday 2nd July in your diaries!