The decisive victory of the Holy League at the Battle of LePanto in 1571 is still celebrated today as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, known before Vatican II as Our Lady of Victory, on Oct. 7. One of the greatest moments in the papacy of St. Pius V, Lepanto was celebrated in art by Titian and in verse by figures ranging from Cervantes to Chesterton. Although the opening of the new Caffe LePanto might not meet with quite so much historical fanfare, it still represents a similarly grand victory for the parish of St. Pius V in Providence — the enemy in this case being COVID-19 rather than an Ottoman fleet.
“We really started working on this seriously about a year and a half ago, though we’ve needed an event space for much longer,” said Father James Sullivan, O.P., at center above, the pastor of the Dominican parish. Although the ongoing pandemic forced him and his fellow friars to slightly adjust their plans for the grand opening of the “café,” which includes its own monogrammed napkins and espresso cups, the celebration was still able to take place on the Oct. 7 Feast Day.
“It was such a significant moment for St. Pius, so we felt it would really be the most appropriate time to officially open this space to the parish, as long as we could do it safely,” explained Assistant Pastor Father Justin Bolger, at left, with Father Patrick Briscoe at right. Revelers wore masks and maintained social distancing, but they still commemorated the event with espresso and coffee ice cream, together with live music from the Hillbilly Thomists, a folk band consisting entirely of Dominican friars (including Father Bolger). The parish intends to use the space for everything from prayer groups to movie screenings.