October 22, 2016

Most Precious Blood Church: An Appreciation

Collection of relics in the sacristy
By Giovanni di Napoli
Since the closing of St. Joseph’s Church (5 Monroe St.) and the moving of St. Rocco to Most Precious Blood Church (113 Baxter St.) in Little Italy, I’ve developed a pleasant rapport with parish staff and clergy, as well as an affinity to the storied church and it’s enviable collection of southern Italian religious art. Nineteen paintings by Avellinese artist Donatus Buongiorno (1865-1935), a replica bust of San Gennaro, a reclining statue of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco, and a phenomenal papier-mâché statue of San Rocco di Potenza (not to mention the one of a kind Neapolitan presepio) are among the many treasures on display.
Perhaps more impressive than the artwork, the church also possesses a number of first-class relics. In addition to a splinter of the True Cross they have bone fragments of San Gennaro, Sant’Antonio di Padova, San Francesco d’Assisi, San Vincenzo Martire and St. Jude Thaddeus. Safely tucked away in the sacristy, I was given access last Friday (while Dr. Andrea Bartoli and members of the Comunità di Sant'Egidio were setting up for their weekly evening prayer meeting) by Most Precious Blood Church Project Manager Bill Russo for a unique opportunity to venerate the relics.  
Relic of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco
Completely unexpected, I jumped at the chance to profess my faith and commune with the saints. Praying for my ancestors, I kissed (and wiped with my handkerchief) each reliquary. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I finished up quickly, but not without taking a few quick photographs for posterity. It goes without saying I was completely awed by the whole experience. 
Personally, Most Precious Blood Church has been a godsend. Along with being the longtime home to the Feasts of San Gennaro, Sant’ Antonio di Padova, Blessed Angelo d’Acri, and Saints Cosma and Damiano, it has recently taken in the Feasts of San Rocco and San Vincenzo Martire. When others were unwilling, or unable, it gave a home to the beautiful statue of the Madonna delle Grazie, patroness of Santa Caterina Villarmosa, Sicily and the icon of the Madonna di Ripalta, patroness of Cerignola, Apulia. 

Thanks to its late hours, the church has also given my confratelli and I a place to come together after work to pray, meditate and light votive candles. What's more, it let me fulfill my vow and sponsor a Traditional Latin Mass in honor of San Michele Arcangelo.
I pray others in our community recognize and appreciate the importance of this church and support its many efforts to promote our faith and culture. On top of the regularly scheduled events, plans to celebrate Saints Simon and Jude, Santa Lucia, San Francesco di Paola, San Calogero, Santa Cecilia, and others, are in the works, so there will be no shortage of opportunities to do so.
(L) Relic of the True Cross. (R) Relic of San Francesco d'Assisi
(L) Relic of Sant'Antonio di Padova. (R) Relic of San Gennaro