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12/21/2013 7:26:00 AM
'La Befana' visits Portland
Catholic News Service photo
A person dressed as La Befana participates in festivities on the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Square.
Catholic News Service photo
A person dressed as La Befana participates in festivities on the feast of the Epiphany in St. Peter's Square.

On Jan. 5, St. Michael the Archangel Parish will host an observance of one of Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legends: the tale of La Befana.

Every year on Epiphany children of Italy awake in hopes that La Befana has visited their room with treats.

As legend goes, La Befana is a cranky, old woman who spends her days sweeping her home and walkway and stubbornly ignoring life around her. One day, a bright star appears above La Befana’s home and the next morning a procession of camels, horses, elephants and three kings stop at her door to ask if she knows the way to Bethlehem. They are in search of a Baby King who has come to change the world.

Cranky Befana is too busy sweeping to help, so the procession carries on.

A persuasive little boy encourages the old woman to join the search. She relents, but first must bakes cookies, cakes and candies to take as a gift. She also must sweep her house clean just one more time.

Because she takes so long, La Befana must run to catch up with the procession.

Suddenly, the night sky fills with angels who try to help the old woman find Bethlehem.
Like Santa Claus, La Befana visits children in their rooms on Epiphany Eve to sweep it clean and leave treats, in hopes that she will one day find the Baby King of Bethlehem.

Amici d’Italia and the Tuscan Association of Oregon are hosting the event in Balestra Hall, which starts at 2:30 p.m. Children between 3-10 will take home gifts from La Befana. Registration is limited to 50 children. Registration is required for participation. For more information, contact Frank Palandrani at 360-576-0453 or [email protected] or Kerry-Lynne Demarinis Brown at 503-287-3255 or [email protected]
St. Michael’s is at 424 SW Mill St.

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