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In Tunis, hundreds of people take part in the procession of Our Lady of Trapani

In La Goulette, a suburb of Tunis, local residents of all faiths come together to participate in the Feast of the Assumption procession.

This procession involves escorting the Madonna statue from the town’s oldest church, the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Fidele, to the town hall. The event is an annual tradition in the town and is joined by Catholics in Tunisia, most of whom hail from Europe or Sub-Saharan Africa.

Leading the procession is a mass officiated by Ilario Antoniazzi, the Archbishop of Tunis. He emphasized the historical significance, saying, “Let us not forget that a century ago, when the Virgin Mary undertook her journey from Trapani to La Goulette, she received a warm and reverent welcome.”


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A relic of Tunis’s modern history

After 1964, the Sicilian community in the country dwindled due to the Tunisian government’s decision to nationalize lands owned by foreign nationals. Consequently, the procession was suspended. However, it was revived in 2017 and has been an annual occurrence since then.

This procession stands as one of the most tangible representations of Italian cultural influence on Tunisia. Originating in the mid-19th century, when La Goulette was home to a substantial Sicilian community, the tradition has persisted. The city in the southern suburbs of Tunis is also the birthplace of several notable figures of Italian descent, including the actress Claudia Cardinale.

The once-prominent Italian, particularly Sicilian, population in the country has also left a linguistic mark. Many words in Tunisian Arabic are derived from Italian, such as miziria from Italian “misera” meaning “misery,” fatchata from Italian “facciata” meaning “facade,” and koujina from Italian “cucina” meaning “kitchen.

See also

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Published on 18 August 2023