Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Reeds

The charm of traditions for us Canadians of Italian origin

My name is Isabella Daniele, I’m 24 years old, and I am from Montreal, Quebec and grew up in the Italian diaspora community of Montreal.

My maternal grandparents were born in Sicily, in a town in the province of Agrigento, and my paternal grandparents were born in Molise, in a town located on the outskirts of Campobasso.

My grandparents, as young adults, immigrated to Canada in the late 1950s, in the post-World War II context, like many in search of a better future for themselves and their families.

So, the question remains, how did I discover Settefrati and la Madonna di Canneto and why would I like to visit this summer?

For starters, I studied Culture Anthropology for my Bachelor’s (McGill University) and Master’s degree (University of Toronto) where my focus was on the Anthropology of Religion specifically Catholicism among Italian Montrealers.

The summer before applying I was invited by my aunt’s parents, who are from Roccasecca, to attend the Montreal Maria Santissima di Canneto feast at the sanctuary located in the countryside.

The Maria di Canneto feast made a strong impression because it resembled the feasts, I had attended in Italy a few summers ago. The large procession, the marching band, and a mass followed by food, classic Italian songs, and dancing.  

The feast had gathered crowds of people (in pre-covid times,) uniting the Italian community and the different Catholic communities in Montreal, French Canadians, Filipinos and Haitians, testifying to the Virgin Mary’s ability to bring people together.  

Tradizioni Italiane in Canada

Furthermore, the Madonna’s particular iconography fascinated me, and I wanted to learn more about this devotion and the devotees therefore, it became my master’s thesis project.

Throughout the research process, I conducted many interviews with different generations of devotees and heard many stories about Settefrati and the Canneto Valley. 

Therefore, I feel it's important for me to experience the region, the place and the site where this devotion and many of the families originate from to get a more holistic understanding. I also feel by going back to the roots of the devotion, it will help me to understand the diasporic version of this pilgrimage better.

I'm curious to discover the similarities and differences between the pilgrimage and feast in Italy and the one in Montreal and how it has transformed and been adapted over the years. Although I graduated in September 2021, I feel like this experience will help conclude a chapter and perhaps lead to a new one!

Lastly, as someone who studies culture, I enjoy any opportunity to meet new people, see different lifestyles and learn from one another.

Growing up in the Montreal Italian diaspora was a unique experience since we were not fully part of the Anglophone Canadian culture or the Francophone culture.

Also, after my first two trips to Italy, in the summer of 2014 and 2018, and meeting relatives and people of a similar age group.

I soon realized that our Canadian way of being “Italian” was different; in many ways, I had to relearn about the Italian culture!  

Therefore, I looked forward to visiting the valley and its surrounding towns and meeting new people to engage in cultural exchange! Also, it will be a privilege to experience the spirit that so many Italian immigrants worked hard to recreate in their new homes, whether in Montreal, Toronto or Windsor and think about ways that spirit can continue to flourish among the younger generations.


Processione Madonna del Canneto Canada
Pellegrinaggio Madonna del Canneto Canada

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Discover a territory through the emotions of the people that have lived it.