August 4, 2018

Around the Web — The Oldest Italian Feast in New York City's Manhattan: Saint Rocco Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow

Evviva San Rocco!
Reprinted from
By Raymond Guarini
As the feast season is upon us, one must look at one of the oldest living feasts in New York City and the oldest in Manhattan, the upcoming feast of Saint Rocco. A preservationist’s dream, the feast of Saint Rocco maintains uninterrupted for 129 years due to the vigilance and devotion shown by the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza, which was established in 1899. Each year, Saint Rocco’s Feast Day is celebrated on August 16th. This year, the feast will be celebrated on August 19th.
To understand how indomitable the love and devotion is for this great saint here in New York, the journey that the feast and society have taken must be acknowledged. The story of Saint Rocco’s continuance as a celebration in New York begins in an old Italian Enclave in Manhattan’s lower east side.
Fourth Ward
A neighborhood once known as the Five Points, or the old Fourth Ward, the lower east side of Manhattan was once home to Irish and German immigrants until the mid-to-late 1800’s, when Italians started to immigrate to the United States en masse. Upon their arrival, Italian immigrants were not welcomed to worship in Irish and German churches. The arrival of more and more Italian immigrants was referred to by many members of New York’s archdiocese as “the Italian problem.” Relegated to church basements or worse, Italians were forced to petition community and church leaders for an opportunity to create their own places of worship. Saint Joachim was their answer. Created as the first Italian parish in New York City in 1888, Saint Joachim was located at the epicenter of the lower east side Italian immigrant community on Roosevelt Street. There were many other Italian enclaves forming throughout New York city in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s but Saint Joachim was certainly the first church in which these new migrants could practice. Continue Reading