Gloomy skies and a light drizzle during Sunday Mass did not stop the parishioners at Holy Saviour Church in Norristown from gathering by the hundreds for the procession of the holy statue of Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca Aug. 17.
By the time the large oaken statue, on the backs of a dozen volunteers, emerged from the small lot next to the church on Main Street and turned up Walnut Street onto Sandy Street, the skies had already lightened. And when the procession turned back down Airy Street and passed Holy Saviour Hall, the sun was shining brightly.
The Feast of Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca was the last of Holy Saviour’s three principal feasts that take place during July and August.
As Monsignor Charles Sangermano explained at the previous week’s threeday Holy Saviour Feast, “These feasts represent the patrons of the towns in Italy from which people came to Norristown.”
While the of the Feast of Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca celebrates the patroness of those from Sciacca, the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebrates the patroness of those who came from Casalduni and Benevento and the Feast of the Holy Saviour celebrates the patron of those who came from Montella.
Those three Italian groups, Sangermano noted, formed three different clubs to help unite and protect immigrants. Today, those clubs are still active in the Holy Saviour community and organize the respective feasts.
Charles Tornetta, president of the MSS Lodge that organized the festivities, said the 110th MSS Feast was the most impressive he remembers in recent years, drawing neighbors to their porches and down the street for feast food.
“This is one of the biggest years in recent history. It’s always very well attended and well supported by the members of Holy Saviour Parish, local businesses and the people of Norristown,” Tornetta said. “The same businesses always support us, but each year we find a few new ones that come and get involved.”
Like Tornetta’s pride in the Norristown, Plymouth and larger Montgomery County community, he also said the feast’s food cannot be matched.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have the best pork sandwiches of all the Italian feasts in Montgomery County, the Philadelphia area and New Jersey,” Tornetta said.
If the amount of people waiting in line at Holy Saviour Hall to get one of those pork sandwiches is any measure of success, then Tornetta was right. The only line bigger might have been the line of children eagerly waiting for free face painting.
Besides food, the feast was full of music, which was provided by the Verdi Band of Norristown during the procession and Starlight Entertainment and Jerry Terence on accordion-keyboard while the community feasted.
Walking with members of the MSS Lodge during the procession were members of Mount Carmel Club, Holy Saviour Club, the Valley Forge Sons and Daughters of Italy and the Knights of Columbus.
Following Mass and the procession of the holy statue, children attending the feast in Holy Saviour Hall were given the chance for free face painting.
Members of the MSS Lodge carry the holy statue of Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca during the Holy Saviour procession and feast.
A large crowd watches balloons let loose after Mass at Holy Saviour Church for the procession of the holy statue of Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca.