Astoria
Aug 27, 2014

Why Astoria Is Awesome: Feast Day of Saint Rocco with the Orsogna Mutual Aid Society

One of the things I love about Astoria is the continued adherence to global traditions and celebrations. The Ditmars area seems to see a number of them—Epitaphios on Orthodox Good Friday, the San (…)

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Photo credit: Magna GRECE

One of the things I love about Astoria is the continued adherence to global traditions and celebrations. The Ditmars area seems to see a number of them—Epitaphios on Orthodox Good Friday, the San Antonio Abate parade in June, as well as the procession during the St. Irene Festival in July. I recently learned about procession during the Feast Day of Saint Rocco, which happened on 18th Street and nearby roads in Astoria earlier this month. I became aware of it via the website Magna GRECE, which is, “a metapolitical ‘think tank’ dedicated to the folkways and heritage of Southern Italy.”

Author Giovanni di Napoli and friends throughly enjoyed their time in Astoria, delighted by the hospitality of the Orsogna Mutual Aid Society, located at 26-23 18th St. in the area of town that is Old Astoria Village, more or less. Close to 200 people showed up to honor St. Rocco, a 14th century man who was the result of an apparent miraculous birth, and is currently regarded as the patron Saint of dogs and falsely accused people. He is considered, in general, to have been a miracle worker.

During the St. Rocco procession, one of the distinctive things is la conca, or, a copper pot:

It was a real treat to see some of the rites and customs of Orsogna, Chieti still performed, including the carrying of la conca (large copper pots) on the ladies’ heads. Beautifully decorated with flags and flowers, the pots were traditionally used to carry water from a well or fountain back to their homes.

A statue of St. Rocco was also carried by the procession, which was a special honor bestowed upon those that carried him.

The Magna GRECE post has a lot of photos of the day, so definitely check it out. I hope various cultures in Astoria continue to do these sorts of celebrations—it’s really one of the things that makes the neighborhood so special.

A Look at the 2014 La Conca di San Rocco in Astoria, Queens [Magna GRECE]

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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