Our Patron Saint
Santo Ippolito was martyred for his Catholic faith in the year 258 A.D. at Ostia, near Rome during the persecution of Valerian, Emperor of Rome. The modern village of Sant’ Ippolito was originally called Napoli Piccola or “Little Naples” because of its natural resemblance to the modern city of Naples. It is a small town near Cosenza in Calabria, Italy. In the early nineteenth century, a terrible earthquake devastated the city. Almost the entire population and prominent buildings were destroyed, except for the church of Sant’ Ippolito. When survivors saw that not one stone of the church had been touched, they accepted this as a heavenly sign and changed the name of the city to that of Sant’ Ippolito. They vowed to pay the saint special honors annually on his feast day of August 13th if he would pray for them and deliver them from other catastrophes. The people kept their promise, and every year in the month of August they celebrate the Sant’ Ippolito Festival for three days throughout their town.
Many people of Sant’ Ippolito who migrated to America and settled in Lansing, Michigan decided to continue their festival tradition. They created the Sant’ Ippolito Society and hosted the first festival in 1938 at Resurrection Church. Since that time the Sant’ Ippolito Festival has been celebrated on the grounds of Sts. James, Cornelius & Cyprian Catholic Church at Bunker Hill in Leslie, Michigan. More than 300 people from mid-Michigan’s Italian American community and around the country come together to honor their beloved saint on the second Sunday of August every year. The festival begins with a mass, followed by a procession and singing of the “Procession Song” in Italian. We then gather outdoors for a picnic where families bring food to share among their family and friends. Each year there are festivities including music, a gelato vendor, raffle prizes, bocce ball tournament, kid’s carnival & field games, watermelon eating contest, and more!