By Jessica Easthope
Dan Murphy puts out the banners and rings the bell at the St. Febronia Chapel in Hoboken. Most days it sits empty, but not today.
Every year on the feast of St. Ann, a crowd from the streets of the city processes into the century-old chapel to pray for the intercession of St. Febronia and the Madonna of Tindari.They’re the patron saints of Patti, Italy a small Sicilian town with a stronghold that once occupied Hoboken’s blocks.
“Basically they felt that their safety was put under her protection and their success here in this country also and they never wanted to forget that and continue that devotion,” said Dan.
Dan’s family is from Patti. Like many others, his devotion started during his childhood and now he’s helping keep it alive and the chapel running.
“It has allowed us to get in here and also foster our faith because it’s a connection to my past and it’s something I want hopefully my son to appreciate and the next generation to carry on,” he said.
The free-standing Catholic chapel doesn’t hold masses, but a monthly rosary. Constance Caiezza believes the Blessed Mother and St. Febronia are responsible for a shift in her faith, so she comes here to give thanks.
“The response that you get is very spiritual and you know when it happens because whatever God gives you is given with a great deal of peace and they’re like miracles,” she said.
And she knows that in the chapel others can find what she did.
“Whenever these doors are open people come by and marvel at the chapel and express such joy it’s so beautiful and to me this place is really a jewel, it’s significant and it’s holy, it’s a holy place,” said Constance.
A responsibility to carry on the devotion is exactly why Brendan Young finds himself in these pews. His family settled in Buffalo, New York when they immigrated from Patti. Now a New Jersey resident, he heard about the little chapel that could give him a big sense of self.
“I came into the chapel and I saw her and I saw the words on the base and it was just this beautiful sense of feeling at home right away, I felt this kinship and this feeling of home and this spiritual sense of peace so I’m very, very happy,” he said.
After 101 years, those who pray for St. Febronia and the Madonna of Tindari’s intercession say their faith and this chapel were built to last.
“The only way this is going to continue is if the next generation does something, takes some action,” said Dan.
“I think there’s a growing sense of shared responsibility and renewed interest of fervor and dedication to promoting our cultural but especially our spiritual heritage as Italian Americans and whatever I can do, nel mio piccolo in my own small way, I’ll be happy to do,” said Brendan.
So in the heart of Hoboken’s two square miles is a place that connects generations and continents to a faith that endures.