The 116th celebration of the MSS Feast, sponsored by the MSS Lodge, will be held Sunday, Aug. 16 in Norristown. Because of safety restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s feast will be modified but continue as one of the region’s longest-running ethnic festivals.

As in previous years, Mass will be celebrated in Holy Saviour Church, 407 East Main Street in Norristown, on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 11:30 a.m.

Because of social distancing measures this year, following Mass a shortened street procession will take place immediately in front of the church, pending a sufficient number of persons to carry the historic statue that replicates the one in Sciacca.

The abbreviated procession and outdoor veneration will be accompanied by traditional Italian symphonic marches played by the Verdi Band of Norristown.

Italian food will be available for takeout in the outdoor feast area of the Holy Saviour Club on East Main Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Participants are urged to participate at a safe distance. Those with compromised health are encouraged to stay home.

The annual feast was started by immigrants from the town of Sciacca, Sicily who settled in the East End of Norristown in the early 20th century. Along with their desire for a new life in America, they brought their religious traditions and simple faith.

Among them was devotion to the Mother of Jesus Christ under the title “Madonna del Soccorso,” which means “Our Lady of Prompt Help.” The citizens of Sciacca believed the Blessed Mother and her intercession ended the famous Black Plague in the town 500 years ago, and their descendants who came to Norristown made a vow never to forget the heavenly assistance their people received.

“Now more than ever, this feast has great meaning,” said Msgr. John C. Marine, spiritual advisor of the MSS Society.