St. Mary's Italian Church

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  • St. Mary's started as a mission in 1914, by Rev. Pietro Maria Piemonte. The mission operated for four years above the fish market on Front Street, before being named an official parish in 1918.
  • Rev. Piemonte started the effort to construct a new church on Margin Street (#56). Many parishioners helped build the church, and donated their gold jewelry to melt and help make a bell for the church. The parishioners were immigrants, poor and struggling, most living in this section of town called "Little Italy."
  • Rev. Piemonte died in 1945, and Monsignor Salvatore Screnci replaced him. This was a time of great growth in the church. The church was remodeled with Italian marble and artists painted murals on the walls and ceilings. The outside grotto was added, as well as a youth center.
  • St. Mary's bronze church bell was rededicated, after being removed from the church in 1981, along with a plaque bearing the names of the eight men from the church who died in World War II. These church artifacts sit in a new courtyard, next to the Christopher Columbus Society hall on Endicott Street.
  • The Boston Archdiocese closed the parish in 2003, citing a shortage of priests.
  • In 2005, the Salem Mission, an advocacy group that works with the homeless, bought the church to use as a shelter and constructed 22 units of housing next to the shelter.
  • In late 2008, the Mission changed its name to Lifebridge, to reflect its new goals of being more than housing for the homeless, but rather an advocate for life changes.
  • Gateways of Peace to the Nations Apostolic Ministries, now located at 47 Canal St. bought the church from the Salem Mission on Feb. 29, 2012. They plan to run their church services in the old catholic church building. The Lifebridge Thrift Shop that operates there presently, will be moving to their old location on Canal St.

See Also