|(L-R) Craco Society members Phil Francavilla, and Joe and Mary Rinaldi, join San Rocco Society President Stephen LaRocca, and Project Manager of Most Precious Blood Church Bill Russo at St. Joseph's Church|
Last Monday morning (July 27th) I joined members of the Craco Society and Saint Rocco Society of Potenza at St. Joseph's Church in Chinatown for the big move to Most Precious Blood Church in Manhattan’s historic Little Italy. Sadly, after nearly 90 years, St. Joseph's will be shutting its doors on August 1st as part of the latest wave of church closings.
Thankfully, the societies made an agreement with the Archdiocese of New York to relocate the relic of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco and society statues (San Rocco and San Vincenzo) to Most Precious Blood. Naturally, we are very sad about the closing (we shared a lot of good times over the years and have some great memories), but we’re also extremely excited about our new home and optimistic our feasts will continue to grow in popularity.
After seeing how much work needed to be done, I’m glad we decided to use Van Gogh Movers instead of moving everything ourselves (as I naively suggested). The crew was hardworking and professional, and did a fantastic job. Maybe if it was just the statues and relic we could have gotten the appropriate permits and carried them through the streets, but I didn’t realize how much other stuff (shirts, candles, banners, etc.) needed to be moved.
Unfortunately, Most Precious Blood is half the size of St. Joseph’s, so available space was hard to come by. San Vincenzo will remain in storage in the choir loft until his new encasement by the altar is completed. The fate of St. Joseph’s other treasures remains uncertain.
After helping Steve set up San Rocco, I admittedly was a little choked up to see our glorious patron on display in his new home. I’m not sure if it will be permanent, but what a difference it is to see him in the light by the altar compared to the shadowy niche at the back of the church. It was a very gratifying experience, and I am proud to have been a part of it.
I want to thank Bill Russo, Project Manager at Most Precious Blood Church, for his hard work and dedication. He was instrumental in the societies’ successful move. We are extremely grateful for the warm welcome and support Bill and the Parish has given us. Special thanks to Stephen LaRocca, who has been a godsend to our community. Steve is an unsung hero who works tirelessly to maintain our southern Italian folkways and religious traditions, and when it comes to helping our community his importance cannot be overstated. I am blessed and honored to have him as a friend.
|(Above and below) San Rocco is prepared for the move|
|A close-up of our beloved patron|
The original 126-year-old San Rocco Society standard
San Rocco’s vacant niche
(left) The ornate reliquary of San Vincenzo Martire
(Right) A close-up of the first-class relic
A last look at San Vincenzo in his glass encasement at St. Joseph's
The relic and his accessories (sword, helmet, martyr's palm, etc.) are removed
The delicate 114-year-old statue is removed from the encasement
A rare view of the statue’s left side
A close-up of our beloved patron
San Vincenzo’s helmet and sword
It was sad to see San Vincenzo’s bare encasement
|(Above & below) Alas, we may never see many of the other historic masterpieces again. (L-R) The Madonna delle Grazie & the Madonna della Stella|
|The apse mosaic depicting Christ Pantocrator and statues of the Holy Family|
|Steve and Bill with moving truck outside Most Precious Blood Church|
|San Rocco on display in Most Precious Blood Church|
Photos by New York Scugnizzo