Remembering Joliet’s Santa Fortunata

Welcome....Please send any pictures, articles and personal stories you may have about Joliet's Santa Fortunata festivals....Thank You...

Click Here To Email Joliet Santa Fortunata

Does anyone know the name of this 1954 Santa Fortunata queen?
Please email me if you know
Thank You

I can still remember times like these...

I have just begun to gather information on Joliet’s Santa Fortunata festivals. Here is what I have been told so far. The Joliet Illinois Society Santa Fortunata was established on the East side of Joliet around 1936-1937 with the purpose to relive the festivals held back in the “old country”, Italy, specifically in the Province of Palermo Sicily, in the city of Baucina. Baucina is a city consisting of less than 1,000 families whose Patron Saint is Santa Fortunata. Detailed information on Santa Fortunata can be found here:

Info on Baucina Santa Fortunata

Though the Santa Fortunata festivals could no longer be held because of changing times, the society did stay in tact, though inactive, over time. However, it was with great dismay that I was informed that Joliet's Society Santa Fortunata was disbanded in March of 2008.

As part of the Joliet Santa Fortunata, a parade would take place starting from the Society Santa Fortunata Hall, located in the 500 block of Meeker Ave., moving through the East side of town to St. Anthony’s church at 100 N Scott St. for morning Mass The parade would then leave St Anthony’s and proceed back through the East side to the Santa Fortunata Hall. The people in the parade would carry a statue of Santa Fortunata and as the parade progressed to and from the church, folks would place money on the statue. (That statue still exists in a secret location.)

The Statue Whereabouts Is Now Known:

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for contacting me. I think I have more questions for you than answers.

I've learned more from your website than anything I have found here at the museum. When you say 'statue', are you referring to the doll in the glass case? If so, yes we have her. Unfortunately I was not here during the acquisition of Santa.

We have no paperwork on Santa. She was dropped off with a note saying that money would also be coming to help with restoration costs. While no monies have ever been received, she is a very beautiful piece.

Because we do not know who dropped her off or where she came from, she has never been formally accessioned into the permanent collection, nor placed on display. If you have any information that could lead us to her original owners, we would be very appreciative.

Also, if you know of any location that is looking to permanently display her, we would interested in contacting them.

Again, thank you for contacting us. She has been a puzzle to us......but hopefully you can help shed light on the subject.

Heather Bigeck
Collections & Exhibits Curator
Joliet Area Historical Museum
204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet, IL 60432
815-723-5201 x233
815-723-9039 (fax)

(*** Jerry COMMENT *** : If you can help Heather out with any information on where the statue came from, please contact her at the above email or phone number.
Thank you,

Recent Pictures of the Statue that represented the Santa Fortunata

At some point during the festival, small girls, dressed like angels, hung above the crowd, from a rope, over the statue where they would recite some words and drop flower petals or confetti on the crowd. About when that was going on, pigeons were released into the air and firecrackers would start exploding. Then the girls, (I bet scared as heck dangling way up there on that rope), would scurry back as fast as possible to get off those ropes.

(Now I believe the girls were dressed as brides, with wings?)

I wonder who those girls were, what it was they said before throwing the confetti, where they are all today and if they could tell us what they were thinking while hanging up there on those ropes?
(My cousin, Philip, says he thinks they were praying the rope wouldn’t break!)

The festival would have several activities for people to partake in, including bingo and Italian food. I can still smell and taste those delicious Italian sausage sandwiches. I never had an Italian sausage that tasted that way since the Santa Fortunata.

I once won at the bingo game and picked a horse head lamp as my prize. (over my mom's objections.) That lamp was on top of our old black and white TV for several years where I would look at it and always remember Joliet’s Santa Fortunata.

Theresa Edwards provided me with a DVD movie of the Santa Fortunata that was way too big to get on this site. However, I was able to get some still pictures from that DVD. These pictures are not very clear at all but if you attended the Santa Fortunata maybe you can make out what is going on and where:

Click Here To Begin Your Jouney
Down Santa Fortunata Memory Lane...

Having said all is what the real participants have to say...
Click Here For 'Angel' Theresa Edwards' Memories...

Here are some comments from Kitty (Swierz) Vancina...
Hello Jerry...I read with interest your letter to the editor in Sunday's paper and e-mailed them for a way to contact you.
I also remember the Santa Fortunata festivals! I grew up on the east side and graduated from St. Thad's back in 1957, from St. Francis Academy in '61. It was at one of these festivals that had my first piece of pizza! :-)
Monday I ran into an old grade school friend in the grocery store and mentioned your article to her. We did some good reminiscing because of your article. She remembered the Santa Fortunata's too!
I'm afraid I don't have pictures or any sort of memorabilia...just what's in my head. I remember being so jealous of the girl/angel having the neat opportunity to 'fly'!
Thanks for the memories!

If you would like to see more comments from folks who remember the Santa Fortunata, click one of the following to see:

Comments Received May 3, 2008 to May 13, 2008
Page 1 of 2

Comments Received May 25, 2008 to June 11, 2008
Page 2 of 3

Comments Received July 6, 2008 to Present
Page 3 of 3

If you can provide more detail for what I have said so far, or have a story you wish to share, please email it to me at:
Click Here To Email Joliet Santa Fortunata

Italian-Americans pay tribute to Santa Fortunata
in Bensonhurst - Brooklyn, New York NY

Sun, June 15, 2008 11:06 pm


My name is Ciro Quattrocchi, I am the president of the Saint Fortunata Society of New York. I was directed to your website by a friend.

I was very surprised to know that there was another society dedicated to Saint Fortunata in America. I am sorry to hear that the society is no longer active. Our society was founded on August 15, 1900, and we are still going strong.

We celebrate Santa Fortunata with a procession every July this year July 26th and 27th.

Our procession is made up of 13 scenes portraying Saint Fortunata's life, conversion to Christianity and martyrdom just like the procession in Baucina on the second Sunday of September.

We do not do the "Volata degli angeli" Our streets in Bensonhurst are too wide: however when our society was in New York City on Elizabeth Street the children would dress up in their communion dresses as angels recite a poem to Saint Fortunata. We still have these poems on file if you should need them. There is usually a poem for a girl and one for a boy to recite.

We still dress up about 100 children and adults for our procession. We used to have girls "compete" to be queen of the feast, but this no longer happens.

I would like to help you out any way I can. If you should need e-mail me. You may also want to check out this website

The procession and pictures are displayed. Perhaps they can help explain what was going on in your old movies.

Good luck!
Ciro Quattrocchi
Viva Santa Fortunata!

Are the bodily remains of Santa Fortunata in Peru?

Maybe they are!

Baucina (Palermo), Sicily
(Just like the Angels in Joliet's Santa Fortunata did!)
The Feast of Santa Fortunata is the most celebrated feast in Baucina. This feast is celebrated on the first Sunday of September, and attracts people from all over. A specialty of this feast is the flight of the Angels: La Volata Del'Angeli. Young girls (5or 6 yrs.) all dressed like brides are suspended on heavy ropes between two balconies across from each other. When the procession with the Saint approach that area, the procession stops and the girls make their invocations to the Saint. Then they release doves and flower petals from little satin bags.

Map of Baucian, Italy

Current weather info for Baucian, Italy