By Stanley Wlodyka
St. Veronica’s claim to sainthood was simply this: She saw a need and did what she could to fill it. A man lumbered through the streets of Jerusalem, back bent under the weight of a wooden cross he was forced to carry, blood and sweat dripping from his face. He gratefully accepted Veronica’s veil as a handkerchief.
“His tears,” adds WestView Publisher George Capsis, “She wiped away his tears.”
The Church of St. Veronica at 149 Christopher Street (one block east of West Street) closed its doors on Sunday, July 23rd. It is rumored that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York requires 100 parishioners to attend mass on Sundays. St. Veronica’s only had 54.
Churches are closing left and right. Beautiful buildings replete with history, they are often a balm for troubled eyes amidst a sea of newly constructed condominiums. St. Veronica’s is a special case because the 127-year-old Victorian Gothic Revival edifice is under landmarked protection. Not the inside, however. The interior, including the 75-foot, marble-lined ceiling, could be done away with if the developer who buys the property thinks it doesn’t quite suit his needs.
Maybe religion is on the outs. People just don’t go to church anymore. What religion provides, however, is needed now more than ever. The recent attacks on churches prove this to be true. Capsis believes that certain things can connect us with Truth. “Classical music, by appealing directly to our senses, elevates us.”
On Saturday, November 25th, at least 422 people knocked on St. Veronica’s door. There were 500 programs printed, and when all was said and done, three little piles containing 78 total programs, were left. Attendees came for a night of Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart played by a 25-piece orchestra conducted by Michael Feldman. Feldman came out of retirement to help out his ol’ pal George, who was his partner in the founding of the world-renowned Orchestra of St. Luke’s in 1974. (Last year, St. Luke’s toured over 80 countries.)
It takes the vision of a great man to bring 422 people together under one roof for a night of musical and architectural appreciation. On December 20th, that man will turn 90 years old. Perhaps that is the reason for his promise: “This concert series will always be free to seniors.”
The next concert will be held on December 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. and 750 programs will be printed. The organizers hope that they will have a few programs left over to serve as mementos of the special night. (750 is the maximum capacity of the church.)
To RSVP, please visit AtStVeronicas.org or send a letter requesting the amount of tickets you desire to the following address:
West Village Fund
69 Charles Street
New York, NY 10014
Donations are much appreciated, as this concert series is on a preliminary, trial basis. Public support is essential to its success.