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**"Come hungry” is the advice people receive when  going to the annual festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Belmont, the Little Italy of the Bronx.  "You can't get a bad meal here; why wouldn't you come hungry?" asked Frank Franz, president of the Belmont Small Business Association.** 

 

**The festival will take over E. 187th St. between Arthur and Cambreleng Aves. with an Italian and religious experience.  Neighborhood businesses such as Mike's Deli in the Arthur Ave. Retail Market will cater to the many visitors on this very festive day, offering fresh panini, mozzarella and espresso and other Italian specialties.  David Greco, the son of Mike Greco, who opened Mike's Deli in 1951 proclaims "There's a lot of fun things going on.  We want to have our friends from all over come here."  The Entertainment will include live performances by the local groups, musicians, and comedians.**

 

But what IS Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and why is it so revered?

 

*Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the patron saint of the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood.  The original Mt. Carmel is in Israel, and named because it was the first place dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.  However, The parish dedications to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel refer to her appearance in the 12th century in England to St. Simon Stock, member of the Carmelite Order.* 

 

*Simon Stock's enduring fame began July 16th, 1251 because of an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, during a time when the Carmelite Order was being oppressed. It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand.  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel has been loved and respected by Italians for centuries and was originally introduced to America by immigrants.  Then it soon became decided that the official Saint’s feast day of all Mt. Carmel parishes be on July 16.*

 

*Moving along to the twentieth century, a committee was formed in 1900, headed by Mr. Pietro Cinelli to ask Father Daniel F. X. Burke, the Italian-speaking Pastor of St. Philip Neri, to open a mission in Belmont.  Realizing the need, Father Burke petitioned Archbishop John J. Farley, and the request was granted.  The mission was opened on June 13th, 1906, and the first Mass was celebrated by Father Joseph Caffuzzi in a store front at 659 E. 187 St. In 1907, a basement Church was built on 187 St. and Belmont Ave. The upper Church was built in 1917, dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  Father Burke's and Father Caffuzzi's initial efforts  resulted in the largest Italian National Parish in the Archdiocese of New York.  In the 40's and 50's, more than 40,000 Italians made Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on E. 187 St. their parish.*

 

*In 1924, the Parish School was opened for children by Father Caffuzzi with the assistance of the Pallotine Sisters. In 1949, Msgr. Joseph M. Pernicone built a new school and an extension was added in 1956 to increase number of students it could accommodate to 1800.*  

 

*To this day, the parish continues to serve the Italian community of the Bronx and welcomes the new immigrants from Latin America.  It continues to serve them with the same affection and love that was issued by the kind Fr. Burke and blessed Fr. Caffuzzi, the co-founders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx.*

 **Getting back to the celebration of this beloved church, the typical fashion of all Little Italies was the celebration of the popular feasts to which were reminiscences of their homes in their native lands.  The feast of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel is a dedication to the fulfillment of religious duties and venerates the Blessed Mother.**

 

**The feast includes an evening Mass in Italian at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on 187th St.  The procession of the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be on the Sunday following the feast.**

 

 

*http://www.belmontfeasts.marketxmarket.com/Background.htm

 **http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/ny_local/2003/07/11/2003-07-

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