Every year, thousands from near and far join us for the Feast. This three-day celebration is filled with excitement for all. It is a time for family, friends, neighbors, and the community to come together and appreciate the traditions of Italy, as well as pay homage to the miraculous Saints Cosmas and Damian, "The Healing Saints".
Warren and Porter Streets (Gaeta Square) of East Cambridge are closed and decorated with illuminations, banners, and flags. The bandstand and the ornate (the temporary chapel which houses the Saints for the weekend) are erected at one end of the festival. A carnival is erected at the other end of the festival. The street is filled with vendors of all sorts, and the aroma of sizzling Italian sausage fills the air.
The statues of Saints Cosmas and Damian are taken out of their chapel on Porter Street on Friday evening. The American and Italian National Anthems are played, as well as the "Lind" or "Hymn" (the traditional song of Saints Cosmas and Damian). The traditional "Marcia Reale" is played as the saints are taken out of the building. Fireworks and confetti greet the statues as they are carried down Porter Street. A candlelight procession follows the Saints as the statues are swayed down the main street of the Feast. The statues are placed in a temporary outdoor chapel on Warren Street. Music, food, carnival rides, and games continue throughout the evening. At 11:00 PM, the statues are taken back to their chapel on Porter Street.
The Feast continues Saturday afternoon, when rides, games, and vendors open up their stands. Buses of devotees from places like the Bronx, NY join the festivities. A candlelight procession brings the Saints back to the Chapel on Warren Street, and a healing service is conducted with the relic of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Entertainment continues throughout the evening. At 11:00 PM, the statues are again taken back to their chapel on Porter Street, and members remain at the Feast until the early hours of Sunday preparing for "the big day".
On Sunday morning, the chapel is opened at 7:00 AM. Coffee and Italian pastries are served for all who will march in the morning procession to Saint Francis Church. The society women wear purple satin capes for this special procession. Many children and other devotees will also walk to Church. The statues are again taken out of the chapel in a traditional fashion as the bands play. The church will fill to capacity for the morning Mass as parishioners, local guests, and visitors from all parts of the country come to see the beloved Healing Saints.
At the conclusion of the Mass, the procession returns to Warren Street and the Society hosts a free traditional Italian dinner for all to enjoy.
At 1:30 PM, the "Grand Procession" begins. Society members, several bands, floats, and devotees march as the statues of Saints Cosmas and Damian are carried through the streets of East Cambridge and Somerville. The Procession will continue for many hours, as the route is filled with families hosting open houses for friends and family. The statues are set down at each home as devotees touch the Saints, and offer donations of money or golden mementos for favors received and continued good health and tranquility. At many homes, the Procession is greeted with fireworks, confetti, and balloons. Ribbons, blankets, capes, and sashes filled with monetary donations are placed on the statues. The band plays the traditional hymn at each home, followed by requested favorites. As the statues are carried away, they are lifted in the air three times to signify blessing to the home and family. This process continues throughout the afternoon and into the evening as many return to stop the Saints in front of the homes they once lived in years ago. The Procession winds its way back to the festival area around 7:30 PM, and entertainment for all ages continues until 10:00 PM, when the statues are carried back to their permanent chapel on Porter Street.
Over the years, the festival has grown significantly in size. World known entertainers have performed at the Feast, including The Capris, Al Martino, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Tavares, The Village People, The Drifters, Martha Wash, The Duprees, The Platters, Debbie Deb, Sweet Sensation, Shannon, Danny Seraphine and Bill Champlin, and The Coasters. On special anniversaries every 5 years, the Feast is expanded with a second, larger stage on Cambridge Street for world-famous Saturday night headliner acts.
The families involved in the Feast work on preparations all year round. For them, this event is of utmost importance. Nothing will interfere with one's presence at the Feast, as everyone must be at the family gathering to pay homage to the Saints.