Blessing of The Fleet

The Blessing of the Fleet is a time honored tradition that dates back centuries to Mediterranean fishing communities. A local priest would bless ships to ensure a safe and bountiful season. The Practice was brought over to the United States by immigrants with strongly held Catholic Traditions. Present day the Blessings can range from a simple prayer, to multi-dat festivals complete with parades, dancing and feasts! Blessings, although less common now a days, are held in many fishing communities around the world.

For the Boston Seafood Festival, the blessing of the fleet is our way of remembering old fishing traditions and honoring the great fishermen before us. The tradition and celebration of living off the sea and honoring both the creatures we hunt and the individuals who hunt them is something near and dear to our cause. We hope that you can come and join us this year to watch the blessing and look forward to a bountiful harvest!

Interested in seeing some other blessings? There are some major ones around the Coastal US that range from a small ceremony to a couple day festival.

Jacksonville, Florida  – With religious origins this blessing is held on Palm Sunday and completed by an Orthodox priest. The first blessing was held in 1985 and is centered around a large boat parade. The festive parade typically includes over 150 vessels – ranging from large ships to Kayaks. To Learn more or attend the blessing check out their website

Brunswick, Ga – This blessing has Portuguese beginnings and is held annually on Mothers Day. This Blessing is in honor of the first appearance of the blessed virgin near the town of Fatima, Portugal. This blessing is held in downtown Brunswick and blesses flagrantly decorated shrimp boats to start of the shrimping season.

Mount Pleasant Started in 1988 by the Magwood family  (local shrimpers) this festival is continued by East Cooper Medical Center and Harris Teeter. Held on the Last Sunday of April every year you can find live music, craft shows a boat parade and lots of other activities!

The Blessing itself varies depending on the place and what the Priest deems most appropriate. Some of the most popular versus are: Psalm 104, verses 24-31 and Psalm 107, verses 23-32.

An example of a blessing used in Destin Florida is as follows:

“Most gracious Lord, who numbered among your apostles the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John, we pray you to consecrate this boat to righteous work in your name. Guide the captain at her helm. So prosper her voyages that an honest living may be made. Watch over her passengers and crew and bring them to a safe return. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon this vessel and all who come aboard, this day and forever. Amen”

Join The Blessing

Have a boat you want to join in? Get in Touch with Megan at megan@bostonfisheriesfoundation.org