St Michael's Church
St. Michael's RC Church was founded in 1858 and became the heart of the Little Italy Community in Ancoats. In 2003 the BBC ran a story about moves by the Bishop of Salford to close the church because of falling congregational numbers and a shortage of priests. That closure did happen although, as you can see from the banners on the building, the fight to save it continued.
The following article appeared in the MEN in 2007.
"Rain or shine Italians walk on
Mike Keegan 2/ 7/2007
AS the rain poured down it must have felt like a long way from Naples, or even Milan. But frequent downpours and miserable weather failed to stop a large crowd turning out for this year's Italian Procession. Starting and finishing in Ancoats the walk travelled down Miller Street and across Cross Street to Albert Square.
Spectators gathered along the route to give encouragement to those taking part who were kitted out in traditional Italian dress. The men and boys wore white shirts and black trousers while the women wore skirts and blouses with Italian scarves. All proudly sported sashes in the green white and red of Italy's national flag. They were accompanied by brass bands, pipe bands and the Lord Mayor as part of a colourful and loud celebration.
The Madonna della Rosario procession has now run for over 100 years. Each year it sees members from Ancoats and other parishes in the area remember the culture and traditions of the families who descended from Italy.
Keeping with tradition it started and finished at the now-closed St Michael's church in Ancoats. But it appears as though this could be the last time the George Leigh Street chapel is used as a starting point.
Since its controversial closure nearly four years ago parishioners have continued to hold masses outside the church and campaigned for its reopening. This year they used it to store the 7ft high statues of Our Lady of the Rosary, Calvary (Jesus on the cross) and St John for the procession.
But due to safety concerns from owners North West Development Agency the locks are soon to be changed.
It could spell a bitterly disappointing end to the long fight to reopen the church. However, NWDA have said that they would consider a business plan from the Save St Michael's Campaign.
Organiser Lorraine Taurasi, from the Manchester Italian Association, said she was `delighted' by how things had gone. She added: "We just want to thank everybody who came and walked or supported us in the rain. I was staggered by the turnout - there must have been 2,000 people here."