Hundreds attend Blessing of the Fleet

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Yesterday, Historic City News reporters witnessed a ceremony that dates back to the City of St. Augustine’s Spanish occupation — the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

St. Augustine’s Royal Family and their entourage are always a favorite part of Easter Week festivities, including the Blessing.

Suzanne Hazen as Queen Mariana; Jaime Blevins as Princess Margarita Maria; and James Solana III as the boy King Carlos reigned over their subjects; joined by other members of the famous entourage of 17th century re-enactors who portray the ruling family in Spain in 1672.

The ceremony began at noon with a procession from the Cathedral Basilica along the Plaza de la Constitucion to the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.

As part of their rich maritime heritage in St. Augustine since 1946, the Yacht Club has overseen registration of all forms of watercraft — from trawlers and yachts to sailboats and motor craft, who participate in the Blessing of the Fleet. The members see to the enforcement of the Rules of Procedure.

Commodore Barbara Dolan of the St. Augustine Yacht Club helped host the Palm Sunday tradition for all who took to the sea in commercial and pleasure craft; all decorated with flags and bunting.

Cathedral-Basilica pastor, the Very Reverend Thomas S. Willis, administered the blessing to all vessels participating in this year’s event:

May the peace and blessing of the Almighty God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend upon these ships and upon all who shall be in them and remain forever.

Because of years of construction to the Bridge of Lions, this is the first time that people could watch the blessing from the southern sidewalks across the span — quite possibly the “best seats in the house”.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by Lena Barnett Solana

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