Maschitans Celebrate St. Elia With Bidding Match, Procession Around The Old Neighborhood

Oct 04, 2019 191

On the stairs of St. Alphonsus, a century-old, ornate Catholic church in West Fresno, generations of families are lining up.  “Hey you guys we’re taking a group picture,” someone calls out. The young and the old inch a little this way and that to squeeze in more closely. They’re all here to celebrate St. Elia, the patron saint of their ancestral village in Italy called Maschito.  Maschitans immigrated here between 1880 and 1920.  

“Can you see the statue down there?” Mike Jura yells down to the photographer. He’s referring to a carved wooden statue of St. Elia that’s sitting on a table at the top of the church stairs. The photographer nods. “OK go ahead, take a couple,” Jura yells. Pictures snapped, now it’s time for a procession through the old neighborhood. But not before a short bidding war takes place. Families bid on the right to escort the carved statue in a cart through the streets. The money helps fund next year’s event.  

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