Dressed to honor their father, a saint

Posted 7/19/22

Lucio Mancini could easily be spotted each year in the St. Mary’s Feast procession. While those walking in the event wore flip flops or shorts due to the intense summer heat, Lucio was always …

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Dressed to honor their father, a saint


Lucio Mancini could easily be spotted each year in the St. Mary’s Feast procession. While those walking in the event wore flip flops or shorts due to the intense summer heat, Lucio was always dressed to the nines in a full suit and fedora.

“Everyone knew who he was,” said his son Marco.

Lucio passed away this past March from a rare kidney cancer at age 84. To honor his father who dressed up out of respect for Saint Mary, Marco and his brothers Alberico and Danilo decided to follow in their father’s footsteps and walked in this past Sunday’s procession wearing suits.

“It means a lot because I know it's what my dad would still be doing if he was still here,” Marco said.

An immigrant from Itri, Italy, who came to the states in 1968, Lucio was part of the last large wave of Itranis who settled in the Knightsville area.

Lucio and his wife, Addolorata, came over separately with Lucio arriving in New York by boat and seeing the Statue of Liberty as he entered the harbor; Ellis Island had already been closed by this time and he arrived at one of the regular docks. Marco added that because he came into the country during the 1960s, the Red Scare was on the county’s mind and Lucio had to prove he was a tailor and not a Communist.

After living in New York for six months, Lucio found his way to Cranston with Addolorata. They lived with family who had already settled in Cranston and stayed in several apartments in Knightsville before building a house on Salem Avenue where Marco and his brothers grew up. 

Lucio worked as a tailor for Leader Uniforms in Providence and then at Kennedy’s and Macy’s in the Warwick Mall. Marco said customers would also come to their house for tailoring; they were always greeted with espresso and pizza.

“And a shot of brandy on the way out the door,” Marco said.

He said his father probably lost more money than he made with these giveaways, but it was all about having people around the table telling stories and sharing food.

The family also experienced the St. Mary’s Feast in Itri several times. They have regularly gone back since most of their relatives besides their aunt and grandparents are still there. Marco said the event is bigger and the whole town is part of the celebration.

He said nationally known music acts in Italy attend and that there are three days of parades. Marco added that locals would participate in a pilgrimage to the mountain where the shepherd found the painting of Maria Santissima Della Civita.

Marco went on the pilgrimage when he was 11 or 12 years old – recalling his uncle waking him up at 4 a.m. and not saying what they were doing. He said he wondered how the older people were making it up the mountain side when he was so tired.

“The faith there for the saint is amazing,” Marco said. “It’s something that really does blow you away.”

Marco said he once had a conversation with his aunt (who immigrated from Itri and lived in New Jersey) about what it was like living in Itri during World War II. She said they lived in caves and Marco said it must’ve been scary to which his aunt replied ‘it wasn’t.’

“She motioned to a picture of the saint and said ‘she was with us’,” Marco said. “That to me, put it all in perspective; the faith there is incredible.”

Marco equated St. Mary’s feast to being as big as Christmas and is part of his family’s heritage.

He said everyone knew Lucio because he was in church every Sunday and in the parade each year – he only missed one when he was in Itri for the feast.

Marco said it is sad  the last group of Itri immigrants is dying out. Lucio’s friends – Frank Iolongo, Sergio Schiappa, Tiberio Ciccone and Peppino Cicarelli – all passed away in the last few years and were Itrani immigrants.

“They were fixtures of the feast. Old school Itri folks,” Marco said. “It hits home this year.”

Growing up, English was a second language for Marco and his siblings; the three spoke an Italian dialect that was distinct to Itri. He said because that was the language that immigrants came over with, the language never evolved. However, the language in Itri progressed and when younger generations of Itrani immigrants visited Itri, it was as if they were speaking like they were from the 1960s.

Marco said in the older dialect they cut off a lot of vowels, and in some cases the words were completely different.

He added that Tiberio’s wife mentioned they came here in the 1950s and learned from the Italians here of an even older dialect from the 1900s. Marco said that it’s as if immigrants hold onto language and customs more than they do in Italy because of the immigration.

Marco and his brothers went to Cranston Public Schools growing up. Marco and Danilo now live in Scituate while Alberico lives in Cranston.

At the procession on Sunday, the brothers had pins with their dad’s picture on it. Marco added that he hopes the saint is taking care of Lucio.

Mancini, St. Mary's Feast


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