A cloth banner bearing the Madonna’s image is carried throughout the neighborhood during the procession to collect money and valuables donated by the citizenry. During the 1930′s and 1940′s, a special raffle was held and the prize was a lamb, representing sacrifice. The traditional use of a cloth banner of the saint – rather than a statue – is based on the belief that a statue will fall and crack, just like the stone bearing the image of the Madonna once did so many centuries ago.
In the early 1950s, the members of the Society of the Madonna Della Cava erected a Chapel at 3 Battery Street (with a back entrance on Salutation Alley), where members could pray at the shrine of the Madonna. In 1988, they renovated the upper Chapel and added a lower Society room which is large enough to host Christmas parties and other celebrations.
For many decades, the Feast of the Madonna Della Cava has been celebrated in Boston’s North End, initially by members who were all first-generation Italian-Americans. Eventually, many of these original members passed away and their children moved out of the neighborhood. The Society’s membership now includes people from several other Boston neighborhoods and the surrounding suburbs, many of whose relatives first settled in the North End.