Just before she died, we had this conversation:
“Jimmy, I want you to promise me something.”
”What is it, Ma?”
“I want you to find a good home for St Anthony.”
”No problem. The recycling will take him.”
”OK, Ma. I promise.”
One might wonder how a statue of Saint Anthony, once in St Peter’s Church in Malden, Massachusetts, would find its way into a suburban Boston home.
Well, the Archdiocese of Boston had to close lots and lots of churches.
You may be familiar with the story.
But to tell our tale, we must return to a simpler, more innocent time.
This is my aunt and godmother Lucille (Lulu) marching in the annual procession of the Feast of Saint Rocco, in the section of Malden, Massachusetts, known as Edgeworth.
As you may remember, my mother (left) had a sister (Lulu, bottom right) and a brother, Tony.
Here they are with their parents (my grandparents), Gertrude and Giuseppe Pisaturo.
Antonio J is still a wild guy.
Here he is a while back with Ma.
And at the club recently.
Vodka may have been involved.
Here he was on Saturday. At 310 Pearl Street, Malden, Massachusetts.
Where he has lived his entire life.
And now he is 94 years young!
For my family, the focal point of the Saint Rocco procession was always 310 Pearl, where my mother grew up with her sister and brother.
You may be familiar with these characters:
My sister Linda, my cousin Yvonne (Auntie Lulu’s daughter) and yours truly.
At 310 Pearl.
The P is for Pisaturo.
And here are my two cousins, John and Mike (Uncle Tony’s grandsons), continuing the Saint Rocco tradition this weekend.
In the same spot. More than 50 years later.
The Saint Rocco festival was originally intended to raise money for Saint Peter’s parish.
As kids, we would be given money to pin onto the sash that St Rocco wore.
Here is my Uncle Tony, his son Joe (right) and his grandson Joe (left) in front of 310 Pearl with the saint.
And Uncle Tony’s daughters, Joanne (John and Mike’s mother, front) and Jeannie, who have carried on the tradition.
Jeannie told me that the candle gets pretty heavy after a couple of hours.
The weight of tradition, I guess.
The woman behind the Feast of Saint Rocco festival is Joyce Mover.
Here she is at this year’s event.
Now back to Saint Anthony!
My mother, my aunt and Joyce once said a novena (lots of praying) for Saint Anthony at Saint Peter’s Church when they were young.
So I called Joyce to ask her if she would take St Anthony off my hands.
She was delighted.
So was my mother.
When I told her that he was not going into the recycling bin.
This may seem like a very bizarre story if you were not raised as an Italian-American Catholic.
My sister (on the left, next to Auntie Lulu), might now think it rather strange too.
But it is a part of our family’s history.
And so it deserves to be remembered.
Even by a heathen like me.