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August 31, 2013

Viva Sant' Alfio!

The Feast of the Three Saints kicks off in Lawrence

LAWRENCE — For the past 90 years, Italians have been obedient to the theme of the Feast of the Three Saints, “Con vera fede” — with true faith.

That is the reason many say the feast honoring the three brothers, Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino — murdered in the third century for not renouncing their Catholic faith — has remained such an important part of Lawrence’s history.

“The three brothers were martyrs who died for their Christian belief and that touches me as a Catholic,” said Wayne Peters, the current president of the St. Alfio Society, which organizes the feast.

“They could have said, ‘No I don’t believe in Christ’ but they did not. For them to do that, it means a lot. We want to keep that message alive,” Peters said.

Peters said members of the St. Alfio’s Society wear a red sash symbolizing the blood the three brothers shed. Alfio’s tongue was torn out with a pair of tongs; Filadelfo was burnt on a gridiron set over coals and Cirino was burnt in a cauldron filled with hot oil.

“It is an honor to remember them and wear the sash,” Peters said.

The feast began yesterday with the opening parade of St. Alfio Society members marching from Common Street to Corpus Christi Parish at Holy Rosary Church on Union Street. Red, white and green colored lights, representing the hues of the Italian flag, and three crowns for each saint, hung over the streets.

People walked up and down the street meeting old acquaintances and savoring delicious Italian foods including rice balls, Italian sausage, pizza and crispelli — whether plain, filled with ricotta cheese or anchovy, a favorite at the feast.

Children’s laughter filled the night air as they jumped on the bouncy house, had their face painted or tried their luck at winning stuffed animals at different games.

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