August 24, 2014

Celebrating 125 Years of Devotion to San Rocco in New York City

Evviva San Rocco! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last Sunday (August 17th) I had the great honor of participating in the 125th Annual Feast of Saint Rocco in New York City. Mass was celebrated in English and Italian with Father Joseph F. Lorenzo at Saint Joseph's Church on the corner of Catherine and Monroe Streets. To everyone’s delight, the original papier-mâché statue with its new floral arch would be used in the celebration. Half hidden all these years in the shadowy nook at the rear left of the church I never realized how vibrant the statue was or that its eyes sparkled. Our beloved patron looked glorious at the front altar under a red canopy surrounded with flowers. Carried in the Procession for the first time in over 25 years, it was a privilege to be one of the lifters.

After Mass, the statue was brought out to the expectant crowd with much fanfare. With so many people pinning votive offerings onto the statue it took a little while before the Procession could get underway. In time we got started and made our long trek through Two Bridges, Knickerbocker Village and China Town towards Little Italy, occasionally stopping for donations.

As always, it was great to see our friends from the Saint Joseph Society of Lodi, New Jersey; the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata of Brooklyn, New York; the Gioiosa Marina Social Club of Brooklyn, New York; the Craco Society; the Monte San Giacomo Society of Hoboken, New Jersey; and the Madonna del Sacro Monte Novi Velia of Jersey City, New Jersey. Their support means a lot to us and is greatly appreciated.

In recent years, it has become customary to stop halfway to Little Italy by Vanella’s Funeral Chapel (29 Madison St.) for some refreshments. Graciously offered by the Tocci family, the wine usually gets people dancing in the streets.

Once we reached Mulberry Street and crossed Canal Street into bustling Little Italy our pace slowed down. After the benediction outside Most Precious Blood Church we stopped by the many businesses that supported the Feast, thanking each one with a song. We paused once again for some refreshments at Da Nico Ristorante (164 Mulberry St.) before hitting Broom Street. On our way back, we paid our respects at The Church of the Transfiguration and Saint James RC Church.

Back at Saint Joseph’s we returned San Rocco to his place of honor near the altar. Famished and ready to party we made our way to the church auditorium to continue the celebration. There was plenty of delicious food and drink options, generously provided by Joe Mancino, owner of Peppino’s Brick Oven Pizza and Restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

We were entertained during dinner by none other than our very own Marcantonio Pezzano with Stefano Monforte on keyboard. The duo performed a lively set of popular Neapolitan standards, including my favorite O’ surdato ‘nnammurato. They were followed by my dear friends Michela Musolino and John T. La Barbera, with special guest Phil Passantino, who put together an eclectic set of traditional folk songs from southern Italy. I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work and preparation they put into the show.

Getting late, the evening came to a close with the highly anticipated raffle drawings. After many laughs, we said our goodbyes looking forward to next year’s celebration. The Feast was a fitting memorial to our ancestors who brought with them their love and devotion to San Rocco.

I would like to thank President Stephen LaRocca and all the members of the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza for doing a fantastic job; the celebration was a huge success. They are a terrific group, dedicated to our faith and culture, and I’m proud to be counted among them. Evviva San Rocco! 
Putti in his hands: Robert Autorino helps prepare the statue
Leaving Saint Joseph's Church
A large crowd gathered for the festivities
Society president Stephen LaRocca sings a hymn to Saint Rocco
Devotees cover the statue with votive offerings
Members of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata
Members of the Saint Joseph Society
Members of the Gioiosa Marina Social Club
The color guard head down Monroe Street
The Procession makes its way around Knickerbocker Village
Tony and Son's Festival Band
(Left) Children help give out prayer cards and collect donations
(Right) The Procession heads towards Little Italy
The Tocci family generously provided beverages outside Vanella's Funeral Chapel
(Above and below) The Procession makes its way through Little Italy
Members carry u cinte (candle house)
After a long day, the Procession heads back to St. Joseph's Church for the party
Marcantonio Pezzano and Stefano Monforte
Phil Passantino, Michela Musolino and John T. La Barbera
For more photos visit us on Pinterest 

Also see:
An Interview with Stephen LaRocca, President of the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza in NYC
A Look at NYC's 124th Annual Feast of San Rocco
A Look at the 123rd Annual Feast of Saint Rocco
A Look at the 122nd Feast of Saint Rocco