The three brothers, who lived in Sicily, were tortured at the order of Tertullo, the governor of the island, according to a booklet distributed by the St. Alfio Society. When they still refused to reject Jesus Christ, Alfio had his tongue torn out; Filadelfo was burned on a gridiron; and Cirino was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil.
Domenic Messina, past president of the St. Alfio Society, said the brothers were martyred in Lentini on May 10, 253. Many years later, he said, in the 1300s, their remains were discovered, as well as manuscripts which told the story of their martyrdom.
While the feast honors three young men who gave their lives for their faith many centuries ago, yesterday a young man who gave his life for his country was honored. Army Sgt. Pierre Raymond, who was killed in Iraq on Sept. 20, 2005 at the age of 28, was inducted posthumously into the St. Alfio Society near the end of the Mass. His brother, Alfio Raymond, John Sciuto and Shane Battle were also inducted into the society, which provides scholarships to college-bound seniors and donates to charities throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Many years after the Three Saints were martyred, thousands of people from their region of Sicily emigrated to Lawrence. They brought the tradition of honoring the Three Saints with them, Messina explained. Many of those immigrants worked at what used to be the Everett Mill, which is right across Union Street from Holy Rosary Church.
Back in Sicily, three massive feasts honor the saints every May, Messina said.
The Feast of the Three Saints is all about family and tradition. People who left Lawrence many years ago still come back to the city every Labor Day weekend for this event.
“I’ve been coming to the feast for 68 years!” said Connie Abbott, who grew up in Lawrence, graduated from Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen in 1963 and now lives in East Waterboro, Maine.