On Sunday, August 19th, the 129th Annual Feast of Saint Rocco will be held at the Most Precious Blood Church located at 113 Baxter Street in New York City. A Solemn High Mass will be celebrated at 12:00 noon, followed by a procession through the streets of Little Italy at 1:30pm.
Steven S. LaRocca, Esq., president of the St. Rocco Society of Potenza, Inc., announced last year that the St. Rocco Feast had for many years been at the Church of St. Joseph on Monroe Street in New York, but as a result of the closing of the Church by the Archdiocese of New York, since 2015, the feast has been held at the Most Precious Blood Church.
Founded on August 16, 1889, by immigrants from Potenza in the Basilicata region of Italy, the St. Rocco Society has had two homes prior to Most Precious Blood. The first, St. Joachim’s on Roosevelt Street, was the first true Italian National Parish in Manhattan. It was demolished in 1958 to make way for urban renewal. The second was St. Joseph’s Church. As of August 1, 2015, St. Joseph’s was merged with Transfiguration Church on Mott Street and is no longer available for religious events.
The St. Rocco Society plans to make the 129th annual feast more spectacular than ever. On August 19th, the Solemn High Mass is followed by the spectacular highlight of the feast. The procession will begin at the Church and wind its way through the streets, as it has done since 1889. The “U cinte” or the candle house, will be carried in front of St. Rocco’s statue during the procession. The route will return to St. Joseph’s, as well as the site of St. Joachim’s to maintain its ties and memories of the past. The St. Rocco Society is somewhat unique in that the majority of new members are Italian Americans who are less than 50 years old, but it also remains an important event for the seniors in the area. La Rocca makes sure St. Rocco stops at all wheelchair-bound people and at the windows of the homebound. Children lifted to kiss St. Rocco’s statue always brings bright smiles. “We all need healing in one form or another and St. Rocco our healer, does just that,” La Rocca said.
Following the procession, food will be available for sale in the church basement and there will be free live Italian entertainment into the evening.