6. The Church of the Most Precious Blood is the National Shrine Church of San Gennaro
Located at 113 Baxter Street between Canal and Hester streets, the Church of the Most Precious Blood served as a prime place of worship for New York’s growing Italian immigrant community. As waves of Italian immigrants moved to New York City at the turn of the 20th century seeking a better life, they began to congregate in Lower Manhattan. However, these immigrants faced numerous obstacles, often coming to live in overcrowded and unsanitary tenements. Shunned by the rest of the city, they were not allowed to worship in already established sanctuaries. As a result, many took to worshipping in make-shift areas in basements, with one prominent place being in the basement of the Transfiguration Church on Mott Street.
As a means of combating this, the Vatican decreed the establishment of the parish of the Most Precious Blood in 1888. Construction on a church was begun by Scalabrini Fathers in 1891. Though the Scalabrini Order ran out of funds, the project was taken over by the Franciscans, who completed the church building in 1904. Every year during the Feast of San Gennaro, a statue of San Gennaro is taken from its shrine within the church and carried through the streets of Little Italy. Today, the church is home to several religious societies in addition to the Figli di San Gennaro such as the Community of Sant Egidio, San Angelo Society, and Saint Rocco of Potenza Society. Moreover, the church is also home to the Vietnamese Arts and Learning Cultural Center.