Family donates recovered windows to Plain Township parish.
PLAIN TWP. It is said that St. Anthony is the patron saint of those seeking lost objects.
That may well be the case at Little Flower Catholic Church, which recently installed two stained-glass windows that were part of the parish’s original 1929 building - a converted school house - in Middlebranch.
They were donated in memory of the late Anthony DiGirolamo Sr. by his widow, Flo, and their family.
The windows, crafted in France, depict St. Anthony and St. Joan of Arc.
The Very Rev. Canon Christopher Henyk, pastor, said the windows are in keeping with the DiGirolamo family’s dedication to Little Flower.
Anthony DiGirolamo Sr. died on Feb. 6.
"When I first came to Canton and met Tony and Flo, the love they had for each other was beautiful, as well as the love they had for their church," Henyk said.
The windows were dedicated on Aug. 5, the DiGirolamo’s 70th wedding anniversary.
Son Anthony "Tony" DiGirolamo Jr. said they didn’t know that any of the windows still existed. The original Little Flower was a mission opened by the Cleveland Diocese, which encompassed Stark County until 1943.
Little Flower eventually became a full-fledged parish, remaining in the building until 1966 when the parish bought 32 acres of land at 2040 Diamond St. NE and later built a rectory, followed by parish hall, classrooms, and a temporary worship space.
The present church was completed and dedicated in 1977.
Elements of the original church on Middlebranch, including the windows, were auctioned.
"So many hearts were broken when that church was closed," Henyk said.
Henyk said he learned the St. Joan window was available at Studio Arts & Glass in Jackson Township.
"We were here making arrangements for my father’s funeral and started talking about the old church when Father Henyk mentioned that Studio Arts & Glass had one of the windows," DiGirolamo said. "Everybody was disappointed when those windows got left behind."
Henyk said they didn’t know there was a second window until they visited the studio.
The DiGirolamo family arranged to buy both and donated them to Little Flower.
The former Flo Rainieri was the second infant baptized in the original Little Flower church. Her family was among a handful of founding parishioners, practically all whom originated from Foggia, Italy.
She and Anthony DiGirolamo met when she was 20 when his parents, old friends from Italy, paid a visit to her parents. After several persistent calls, Anthony and Flo went on their first date: a movie at the Palace Theatre in February 1950.
"He got a new car; I think he just wanted to show it off. It barely made it up the hill on Market Avenue near 19th Street," Flo DiGirolamo said, laughing at the memory.
They were engaged in May, and married on Aug. 5 in the little church.
A smiling Henyk pointed out that perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Anthony DiGirolamo Sr. and St. Anthony share a name.
"It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the DiGirolamos," he said.
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