In just a few days, the 130th Annual Feast of St. Rocco will take place in Manhattan’s Little Italy. The Solemn Mass will commence at 12:00 pm on Sunday, August 18 at Most Precious Blood Church, 113 Baxter Street in New York City. Mass will be followed by the procession, the highlight of the event, at 1:30pm. The procession begins at the Church and winds its way through the streets of Little Italy, as it has done since its inception in August of 1889. This is the fifth year that the feast will be held at Most Precious Blood since the closing of St. Joseph’s Church.
The St. Rocco Society was founded on Roosevelt Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1889 by immigrants from the southern Italian city of Potenza in the Basilicata region. It is one of the oldest Italian American societies in New York State. Every year since its founding, the society has celebrated St. Rocco’s feast with a procession.
Stephen S. La Rocca, an attorney in New York City, has made it his mission to renew the active participation of the Italian American community and all of the St. Rocco devotees in this event. La Rocca, the maternal grandson of immigrants from Basilicata has a fervent devotion to his patron saint and it has been his goal to restore the feast to its former glory.
The focus of the feast is the procession of the statue of St. Rocco. Even before St. Rocco begins procession through the neighborhood, he is nearly covered with monetary offerings of his faithful. The statue, which is carried on the shoulders of the members, is accompanied by an Italian street band for the entire length of the approximate three hour long walk.
Following the procession, there will be food for sale and free live Italian entertainment. Proceeds from the feast will be donated to Most Precious Blood Church. For more information, including directions to the church, please feel free to call the rectory at 212-226-6427, or Mr. La Rocca, 718-256-0792 or 646-734-8354. You can also visit their website: www.stroccosociety.com or e-mail Mr. La Rocca at [email protected].