Photo: Father Kelly, far right on the boat, goes out to sea with the Stone Harbor Beach Patrol as part of the annual “Wedding of the Sea.”
When: Monday, August 15 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: 82nd Street Recreation Fields, Stone Harbor
All are invited to attend St. Brendan the Navigator Parish’s annual Wedding of the Sea Celebration!
Following mass, Father William Kelly, will go out on a lifeguard boat with the Stone Harbor Beach Patrol to bless the sea. (Photo from 2021 attached).
The Wedding of the Sea is a tradition that began in Venice around 1000 AD. The civil and religious leaders of Venice performed an annual “wedding” between the city and the Adriatic Sea on the Feast of the Ascension of Christ. The ritual symbolized the maritime power’s vital relationship to the sea. The Wedding of the Sea celebrates the relationship of the town and the sea and asks God to grant success to the work of so many to build up this beautiful island.
So, why do we celebrate the Wedding of the Sea on August 15 versus the Ascension? According to legend, in 1445, the Bishop of Cervia, Paul Barbo, who later became Pope Paul II, was returning to Venice on the feast of the Assumption (August 15th,) when the ship got caught in a storm. The bishop was able to calm the storm by praying and throwing his pastoral ring into the sea. The “Wedding of the Sea” is a popular, centuries-old rite in many European seacoast cities and towns and even here in Southern New Jersey.
This tradition, which is the highlight of summer at the parish, has been celebrated every August 15th at St. Brendan the Navigator here on 7 mile Island welcoming all to attend the open-air mass, the procession down to the beach, and to witness Father Kelly as he blesses the sea.