Grapevine: St. John's Church Permanent Part of Improvements to Immaculate Conception

By Rosalyn Queen Alonso | May 26, 2018
If you have driven by the Immaculate Conception Church on Pike Street in Clarksburg lately you will have noticed the beautiful renovation that has taken place to the steps and front of the building. 
The Immaculate Conception Parrish was founded in 1864. At the time, primarily Irish immigrants made up the Catholic population in the Clarksburg area.  The Immaculate Conception Church located on East Pike Street was built and dedicated on August 5, 1865.
In 1906 to accomodate a growing Italian community near and around Clarksburg, the Immaculate Conception expanded into a second location - a mission church located on Water Street. That church was named St. John the Baptist Church.
In 1969, St. John's was closed and that church's membership was merged with the current Immacuate Conception.
Facing the Immaculate Conception, if you look to the right you will see that a bell has been erected in front of the church. This bell was the same one that was hanging on the St. John's Roman Catholic Church which at one time was located close to the former Kelly Miller school building. 
When St. John's Church was dismantled and the parishioners were sent to the Immaculate Conception the bell also went with them. For decades, the bell has been kept in storage and is now a focal point at the front of the Immaculate Conception. The presence of the bell stirs a lot of fond memories for former St. John's parishioners. 

Most of the Italian families in our area came here from San Giovanni in Fiore.  And that is where the name for the St. John's church came from.  The feast of Saint John's Day is celebrated on June 24th. Throughout Italy many regions will have celebrations commemorating this Feast.
One of the largest festivals to celebrate the Feast will be held in Umbria. In the morning, the rural people put on a splashing event. The evening before, farm families go into the fields to gather plants and flowers. These plants are cut and then soaked all night in an outdoor basin. Keeping the plants in the basin out all night assures that the first dew from the heavens will enter the water. 
Upon rising the next morning, everyone in the family will wash their face and hands with the "Acqua di San Giovanni" perfumed with the flowers that have been soaking all night. It is said that washing in this water is purifying and protective which is why it is added to everyone's bath water. This might be a tradition you would like to observe.

I hope you will observe St. John's Day this year and a little research may help you find a tradition that you and your family may like to observe. You will have plenty of time to plan an observation if you start now.

Keep in touch with me and until next week "Now You Have Heard It Through The Grapevine."
Photos compliments of Ben Queen

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