Father Virgil Cordano honored at annual I Madonnari

The long time fixture at the Santa Barbara Mission is remembered five years after his death

POSTED: 10:23 PM PDT May 22, 2013    UPDATED: 04:01 PM PDT May 23, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The 27th annual I Madonnari Festival will take over the Santa Barbara Mission this weekend.

This year's event will also feature a tribute to the late Father Virgil Cordano -- a banner draped over the side of the Mission Bell tower.

"Father Virgil was instrumental in having the mission host the festival year after year," explained Father Charles Talley.

"He is such a wonderful man, and I enjoyed working with him immensely," added I Madonnari organizer, Kathy Koury.

Father Virgil served at the Mission for more than 50 years, including 17 as pastor before his death in 2008.

"By many, he was regarded as the pastor of Santa Barbara," said Talley.

He was known beyond the Catholic community.

"He was charming, charismatic, but also a person of immense openness to people of every spiritual path," said Talley, "it was that openness that attracted people to him, and the fact he was such a constant figure."

I Madonnari organizers remember Father Virgil for his passion.

"It makes it all the more special for us. Father Virgil was an extraordinary man, and had a great sense of humor, and was open to the arts and all of this that's going to happen for the weekend," said Koury.

"There's a legacy here people can benefit from and continue. It's the spirit as much as the life we want to honor," said Talley.

I Madonnari will also feature live entertainment and food vendors. it officially kicks off on Saturday.