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Provincetown :: Thursday, November 27th 2014

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Getting Blessed, Provincetown Style

Notes from Land's End: June 27


June 27th, 2012

The Blessing of the Fleet is a religious ceremony brought to Provincetown by its Portuguese residents in the mid 1900s. It begins on Sunday with a Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church on Prince Street. The beautiful stain glass windows shine into the vaulted space as voices sing “Pescadores de Hombres”, a hymn originally written in Portuguese:

At the end of the service, a statue of St. Peter is carried in a processional from the church to the end of MacMillan Wharf.

“Oh Lord, with your eyes set upon me, gently smiling,

You have spoken my name

All I long for, I have found by the water,
At your side, I will seek other shores.”

At the end of the service, a statue of St. Peter is carried in a processional from the church to the end of MacMillan Wharf. This Patron Saint of Fishermen is traditionally placed on the bow of a different boat each year.

By 1:00 p.m., scores of boats circle around the Provincetown II for a blessing with holy water from Reverend Monsignor John A. Perry, a longtime presence in Provincetown. Pleasure boats greatly outnumber working fishing vessels but the spirit lives on.

The weather is perfect, with a light breeze and sunny skies. Thunderstorms seem to hold off, like magic, every year until late in the evening when everyone is back on shore.

The annual Portuguese Festival, a four day celebration with food, bands, crafts and a parade culminates with the Blessing of the Fleet, an enduring ritual brought to Provincetown by people who have made their livelihood from the sea.

Abrigado (!) to the Portuguese Festival Team for the wonderful pictures.

“Notes from Lands End”, by artistic bon vivant Laura Shabott, is a weekly account of the people, places and events that make our town so special.

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