Antonio Demo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Antonio Demo
Father Antonio Demo.jpg
Born (1870-04-23)April 23, 1870
Died January 2, 1936(1936-01-02)

Father Antonio Demo (S. Lazzaro at Bassano del Grappa, Italy, April 23, 1870 - New York City, January 2, 1936) was a New York City Italian American priest and civic activist.

He studied at seminaries in Italy and entered the Scalabrini Order in 1894. Ordained a priest on July 20, 1896, the same year he emigrated to the United States. He initially did missionary work for two years in the parish of S. Heart in Boston, which served a congregation of Italian immigrants mostly from Genoa. On July 19, 1899 he was assigned as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Pompei Church, established in 1892 by Father Pietro Bandini in New York City's Greenwich Village on Bleecker and Carmine Streets. In 1900 he was appointed pastor of the church, which served what was then one of largest Italian-American communities in America.[1][2]

Father Demo exercised his apostolate among the Italian immigrants, serving until 1923 also as the director of the St. Raphael Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants, an organization that had been specifically formed in 1891 by Bandini to assist newly arrived immigrants and that he helped to strengthen.[3] His spiritual care and leadership were put to test on March 25, 1911 when he had to respond to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, which claimed the lives of 146 female employees.[4] Because of his many merits in the care of the Italian community he was decorated with the "Cross of Knight of the Crown of Italy".[5]

In 1923 Father Demo learned that the church would have to be demolished to allow extension of the Sixth Avenue. Father Demo organized a campaign to buy a nearby property and with the help of a leading Italian American architect, Matthew Del Gaudio, build a new church, and rectory. The new church could already be available for the congregation in May 1927. In late Summer 1931 the parochial school also was opened.[6]

In 1935 Father Demo became Pompei's pastor emeritus and superintendent of its parochial school. He died in 1936 in New York, and thousands of parishioners and friends, including Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, paid their respects.

In 1941, the intersection of Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue was named Father Demo Square.[7] In 2009, after a renovation, Father Demo Square was honored with a Village Award[8] by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Our Lady of Pompei Church as seen through Father Demo Square



  1. ^ Nicholas Joseph Falco, "Antonio Demo."
  2. ^ Scalabrinians Official Website
  3. ^ Nicholas Joseph Falco, "Antonio Demo."
  4. ^ Biography of Father Demo
  5. ^ Scalabrinians Official Website
  6. ^ Nicholas Joseph Falco, "Antonio Demo."
  7. ^ Father Demo Square - Historical Sign at
  8. ^ "Past Village Award Winners". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 


  • Brown, Mary Elizabeth. "Italian Immigrant Catholic Clergy and an Exception to the Rule: The Revered Antonio Demo, Our Lady of Pompeii, Greenwich Village, 1899-1933." In Church History 62.1 (March 1993): 41-59.
  • Falco, Nicholas Joseph. "Antonio Demo." In The Italian American Experience: An Encyclopedia, ed. Salvatore J. LaGumina (New York: Garland, 2000), 177-78.

External links[edit]