NEW YORK PRAYS: ite, missa est


At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th a great number of Italian immigrants settled in the Bronx, especially in the Belmont section. What kept them together was their common language and faith. In the Northwest area of the Bronx in 1900, only St. Philip Neri church on the Grand Concourse had an Italian-speaking priest. So the faithful from Belmont made the long trek to the Concourse to attend mass, receive the sacraments and to bury their dead. 

As their number grew, the journey became more difficult and in 1907 a basement church was built on 187 St. and Belmont Avenue. The upper church was built in 1917, dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the largest Italian National Parish in the Archdiocese of New York. At the height of its history in the 40's and 50's, the parish had more than 40,000 Italians faithful.  

Many Italians have left the neighborhood and live in Connecticut but still consider Our Lady of Mt. Carmel their parish and every Sunday travel to Belmont to attend mass in Italian and to bury their dead. Today the benches are full of Mexican immigrants that attend mass in Spanish and have revitalized the parish bringing their own religious figures as Our Lady of Guadalupe and merging them with the Roman Catholic ones. On December 25th, Reverend Brendan Fitzgerald celebrated the last mass in Latin. 

This series was shot in 2011 and 2012.  

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