Beato Giovanni Liccio was a priest in 15th century Sicily whose fame as a traveling preacher was matched only by the legend of the miracles he performed. The earliest miracle attributed to him occurred shortly after his birth during 1426 in Caccamo, Sicily. Because his mother died shortly after he was born and his father was poor, Giovanni was given to a neighboring couple for care and feeding. At night Giovanni slept along side the husband who was paralyzed and bedridden for years. After a short time, the man was able to walk. Giovanni’s presence cured his condition.
The child became known as “Beato” (blessed) Giovanni and as a young boy he joined the Dominican monastery in Palermo where he received his cultural and theological education. He followed the teachings of God and the spirituality of his Order to preach the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus Christ to towns and villages across Sicily and Italy. When he died on November 14, 1511 he was placed in a display of silver and glass. His remains now rest in Santa Maria degli Angeli Church that Beato Giovanni built back in 1487. The display is removed the last Sunday of every year and carried in procession during the feast in his honor.
In 1925 a group of Caccamesi living in Chicago formed the Societa Beato Giovanni Liccio to honor the patron of their home town. As in Caccamo, a feast with a procession was held in May and a mass was celebrated in November commemorating the Beato according to Caccamese traditions. This continued until 1965 when it was scaled back to a Mass in May only and no procession.
In 1976, Pat Porretta became president of the society and brought new life and members to the club. He quickly brought back the traditions by having a feast with a Mass and a procession in May and Mass in November. The feast has grown steadily every year to include marching band, entertainment, and priests from Caccamo to celebrate the Mass.