Parishioners make annual pilgrimage 

Parishioners make annual pilgrimage 

“E Chiamamulu Paisanu! Primu Diu E Sammastianu!"

Translated into English, this means, "He's one of our own. First God and then Saint Sebastian."

Devoted parishioners of St. Sebastian’s Church in Middletown, enthusiastically repeated this Italian phrase during the I Nuri Run on Sunday, May 19.

These Nuri – dressed in white with a red sash and a picture of St. Sebastian pinned to it – gathered at St. Sebastian’s Cemetery in Middlefield to express their gratitude to their patron saint for his help throughout the year.

They said prayers to St. Sebastian, to God, and to their departed loved ones.

They then ran or walked – either barefoot or in white socks – down Rt. 66 in Middlefield to St. Sebastian’s Church.

Another contingent of Nuri were stationed at the former Sons of Italy Hall on Court Street in Middletown.

Once the 11 a.m. High Mass at St. Sebastian’s concluded, the two groups converged and ran inside the church, emphatically stating: “E Chiamamulu Paisanu! Primu Diu E Sammastianu!"

The I Nuri Run coincides with the annual St. Sebastian’s Feast in the city.

Nuri Joanne Jerjies of Middletown has done the I Nuri Run for seven years. “I made a promise to St. Sebastian to help my family, for peace, love, health and happiness,” she said.

The I Nuri Run in Middletown is modeled after the original one held in Melilli, Sicily.

According to Nuri Mario Genovese of Middletown, “In Melilli it starts at 4 a.m. It is pretty much the same concept. In Italy it is always held on May 4. Everybody leaves from the same area at 4 a.m.  They go to church, and at 10 a.m. the Saint is carried out. They wait for other people from six different towns to come. They usually arrive around 2 p.m. because they have over seven, eight miles to walk. In Melili, they have over 1,000 people doing the I Nuri Run and the whole town does it.”

Dr. Gene Nocera, a chairman of the St. Sebastian’s Festival, said about 300 Connecticut residents participated in this year’s run.

Also, he said two busloads of out-of-staters increased the I Nuri total by 100.