Agatina Giacopino (1887-1972) was one of the early parishioners of Our Lady of Peace. She arrived in the United States at Ellis Island in 1913 and spent a few years in Detroit with her husband, returning to New York just before her mother, sisters and brother arrived in 1921.
The Italian immigrants came in waves, but a surge of more than 3 million arrived between 1900-1915. The greatest number, like Agatina Giacopino, arrived in 1913. The Upper East Side neighborhood was already home to her uncle, Nicolino Signorello, who was one of the first immigrants from his family, and who offered his apartment to all his sisters, nieces, nephews and their families after they were processed through Ellis Island.
Italian immigrants built the parish of Our Lady of Peace. America offered the promise of freedom and opportunities to work - the main attractions immigrants sought as they came through the "golden door." One of those freedoms, the right to practice one's religion, is guaranteed in the Free Exercise Clause of the Bill of Rights.
Agatina Giacopino fully exercised those rights at Our Lady of Peace for 50 years, according to her granddaughter, Lorraine Coyle Landells:
"The church meant so very much to her. When she was well and able to walk the few blocks to the church, she attended daily mass. Attending Our Lady of Peace gave her much solace and joy throughout her life. There are certain sacred spaces that are meaningful beyond words. These places inspire love, faith, hope and joy. Our Lady of Peace is one of those rare places. This church will always have a claim on my heart."