Feast of the Assumption Kicks Off in Little Italy

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CLEVELAND -- Just say "the feast" at this time of year and you're likely to think of the rich Italian tradition.

But before the food, fun and festivities, the day starts with faith.

Hundreds filled the Holy Rosary Church Thursday in celebration of the Feast of the Assumption.

On this holy day of obligation, Catholics show their strong devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary and her ascension into heaven.

"It's really a culmination of a lot of religious feelings for the church and our beliefs in the blessed mother," said Peter Petralia of Mayfield Village.

This homage to the Blessed Mother is taken outside, where the faithful process through the streets of Cleveland's Little Italy. It shows the importance of living a Christian life, walking with Jesus with the help of his mother.

"Every hometown from Italy would have their feast day, but this one stayed the longest," Marie DiVito Fratus of Cleveland said.

Rashed Whatley recognizes that the Feast of the Assumption is a religious holiday, but believes it is much more.

“It’s also a festival and celebration of Little Italy, Italians in America, all things Italian," said Whatley.

In this case, all things Italian means food, lots of Italian food.

“I come to the feast to eat all the food and just be with my family,” Angelina Soulis of Mentor said. 

This rich Catholic and Italian tradition has been celebrated in Little Italy for 115 years now.  The four-day feast and festival continues until Sunday night.  It ends with a candlelight procession, prayers and fireworks.    

For a complete schedule of events, click here.