Among the great rituals of a community, involving not just the whole family but also the whole of society, are religious festivities to commemorate patron saints, Christmas and Easter.
By observing these festivities, emigrants maintained the traditions of the community they had been born into. Their patron saints were like companions who had accompanied them on their travels, helping and comforting them.
This “folk” religion, which is still alive today, often aroused the criticism of the church authorities, often from a totally different background themselves and unable to understand a culture they saw as bordering on folklore.
Religious festivities have always been part of the emigrants’ heritage and helped them preserve their identity. And the importance of religion in the various Italian communities is reflected in by their places of worship: from the simple wooden chapel to the relatively plain stone parish church, and finally the imposing church with its high bell tower, inspired by Italian architecture .