Why St. Leo's Church honors St. Anthony
with an annual Italian Festival
- since 1904!
Towards evening, it was obvious that Little Italy was in danger. Residents began fleeing eastward toward Patterson Park, taking whatever belongings they could carry. It was then, most accounts agree, that the stage was set for a miracle. Many of the parishioners refused to leave their homes and belongings they had worked so hard to acquire. They gathered on the east bank of the Jones Falls and prayed for God to spare them from the flames. Someone in the crowd cried out, “Saint Anthony, protect us!” and others mimicked the cry. A few men ran to Saint Leo’s Church and returned with the statue of Saint Anthony and a vessel of holy water. As Father Monteverde raised his arms in prayer, the residents made a solemn vow: if their homes and church were spared from the fire, they would hold a yearly festival in honor of Saint Anthony.
Around 6 o’clock Monday morning, a strong wind blew the flames in another direction. Efforts to clean up downtown had not even begun when, in gratitude, the people of Saint Leo’s founded the Saint Anthony Society and started the celebration which began with a solemn High Mass. Afterwards, the entire neighborhood joined in a procession through the streets of Little Italy to celebration. An annual procession and festival to honor Saint Anthony has continued to this day.
Chapter from the book,
Baltimore's Little Italy:
Heritage & History of The Neighborhood
click panels to enlarge
Before outdoor films, mouth watering cuisine and the spectacle of bocce brought thousands of visitors to its streets, Baltimore’s Little Italy was a haven for generations of immigrants. With Saint Leo’s Church at its heart, The Neighborhood is a place where lifelong friendships are forged and nicknames are serious business. The community still celebrates the Feast of Saint Anthony Italian Festival in tribute to the saint who was credited with saving the neighborhood from the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. As sons went to the front during both world wars, families pulled together during the hard times. With memories of beloved local figures like Marion “Mugs” Mugavero and artist Tony DeSales, interviews with lifelong locals and a few classic recipes, author Suzanna Rosa Molino creates a spirited history of this enduring Italian community.
- autographed by the author
- includes tax & shipping
- paperback, 160 pages, published 2015, History Press (SC)
- proceeds benefit 501c3 nonprofit, Promotion Center for Little Italy, Baltimore