EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 31, 2013

Viva Sant' Alfio!

The Feast of the Three Saints kicks off in Lawrence


The focus of the feast today is the traditional torchlight parade honoring the Three Saints, ending with fireworks and the playing of the Cantata, the traditional three-part hymn in honor of the Saints.

Peters said the highlight of the Feast this year is the 90th anniversary Mass celebrated by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley Sunday at 10 a.m. at Holy Rosary Church. The Feast culminates with the procession of the Three Saints on Sunday afternoon. At 3 p.m. sharp, the bell rings, the confetti fires and the band plays the Marcia Reale, with the statues of the Saints leaving the church to be placed onto the vara. Children are hoisted up with offerings and pay their respects to the Saints, amid the cheers shouted by all: “VIVA SANT’ ALFIO!”.

Local Italian Americans have such a devotion to Saints Alfio, Cirinio and Filadelfo because their ancestors brought it with them when they emigrated from Italy. The St. Alfio Society, which sponsors the event, is committed to keeping the feast alive.

“It’s very rare that you see a tradition like this last for 90 years,” Peters said, crediting the 160 members of the organization. While they have many members in their 60s, the average age of a man in the society is between 30 and 50, though many 18 to 25-year-olds are also getting involved.

“It would be a shame to lose our heritage,” said Robert Frasca of Epping, N.H., a member of St. Alfio Society for the past 40 years. “The members goal is to keep it alive.”

For the past three years, local historians Richard Padova and Joe Bella have lectured on Italian history at the feast.

“We need to keep in mind why we’re here,” Padova said. “The food and the entertainment are great, but the main reason why we’re here is to honor and celebrate the three saints.”

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