Traditional Italian blessing of modern fishing boats

Skipper Martin Finnie (left) and deckhand John James watch Fr Mark Chamberlain bless Sirocco at the Careys Bay wharf yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Skipper Martin Finnie (left) and deckhand John James watch Fr Mark Chamberlain bless Sirocco at the Careys Bay wharf yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Holy water is being used in a bid to improve Otago commercial fishing catches. Catholic priest Fr Mark Chamberlain blessed three Careys Bay fishing boats yesterday morning, before sprinkling holy water on the decks and anointing them with oil.

''It's a good thing to do, because it acknowledges all the hard work the fishermen do and that there's always an element of risk involved at sea. We ask for God's blessing and protection on the water,'' Fr Chamberlain said.

There was a long tradition of religious ritual among mariners.

''The Port Chalmers Iona Church is dedicated to the Lady Star of the Sea.''

The Holy Name Church priest blessed three boats belonging to Moeraki fisherman and charter operator Martin Finnie; Sirocco, Katrina and Lady Jane 1. ''I wanted to get it done because it's an old Italian Catholic tradition and my family on my mother's side were Italian fishermen at Ravensbourne.''

The tradition began in Mediterranean fishing communities to ensure a bountiful season and safe waters for fishermen.

- nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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