The horrific influenza epidemic of 1917-1919, which killed over 50 million people world wide and afflicted one in four Americans, left many children in the Boston area orphans. At the time, Fr. Anthony Sousa, then Pastor of St. Leonard’s Church, founded the Italian Home for the Children in Jamaica Plain. After 90 years, it is still helping children in crisis.
The influenza epidemic and its cost to the North End, Boston, and America is largely ignored by history.
The Church continued to help the children of the North End, leading eventually to a summer house in Nantasket Beach in 1927, St. Anthony’s Villa, to continue to provide a healing space for its traumatized youth.