Sep. 2—LAWRENCE — Closeness can feel unusual these days, but a year-and-a-half into the global pandemic, the St. Alfio Society is encouraging folks to come out for the Feast of Three Saints — a tradition of togetherness.
A two-day feast will be hosted this weekend, Sept. 4 and 5. With COVID-19 concerns in mind, organizers say the latest city rules will be followed, and individuals are welcome to wear masks as they see fit.
The 98th annual celebration will honor the martyrdom of Saints Alfio, Filadelfo and Cirino, three young men who, despite excruciating torture imposed by Roman authorities, refused to renounce their religion.
While the feast celebrates Italian pride, people of all ethnic backgrounds enjoy the food, music and faith.
"You don't have to be Catholic to come. Everyone believes in something and I'm okay with that. Just come and celebrate community and family," said Tony Palmisano, chairman of communications for the St. Alfio Society.
Pandemic times and a devastating fire at Holy Rosary Church at Corpus Christi Parish back in February have led to a few changes in plans.
The Saints are typically brought out of the lower church, but instead will make their annual public appearance from the St. Alfio Society chapel, at 20 Common Street, where they were moved after the tragedy.
Children will not be picked up to be closer to the saints, as tradition typically goes, Palmisano said. The decision was made as a means to respect everyone's space and limit contact while COVID-19 remains a concern.
A local theatre company, Acting Out, has been added for the first time to a full schedule of entertainment.
"They'll do two performances of the same show, called 'Peace, Love and Music,'" Palmisano said. "The first show is Saturday around 3:15 p.m. and then Sunday around 2 p.m. There's a lot of young people involved."
He expressed pride in his group's ability to showcase local arts and entertainment.
During typical years, Palmisano said upwards of 20,000 people from near and far show up to each day of the event. Expectations are unclear for this coming weekend.
"I'm optimistic," he said. "I think a lot of people are looking forward to it. In the last month and a half, talking to people, I've been hearing that locals are excited about us coming back."
Last year's event only included a drive-by viewing of the saints.
Palmisano added, "wear a mask, do whatever you need to do to be comfortable, but come out."
A full schedule of events and more information can be found online at threesaintsinc.org.