February 22, 2019

Feast of the Chair of San Pietro Apostolo at Antioch

Evviva San Pietro!
February 22nd is the Feast of the Chair of San Pietro Apostolo (St. Peter the Apostle) at Antioch, a celebration of the first Pope’s foundation of the See of Antioch before going to Rome. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Peter the Apostle. The accompanying photo of Saint Peter Enthroned was taken at St. Ann’s Church in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Prayer to St. Peter the Apostle

O Holy Apostle, because you are the Rock upon which Almighty God has built His church; obtain for me I pray you, lively faith, firm hope and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, recollection in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

February 21, 2019

Metalli Sonanti — March Dates

Metalli Sonanti are Fabio Turchetti and Michela Musolino
Monday, March 4th @ 8PM Metalli Sonanti with special guest Lynn Bechtold
45-58 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101

Tuesday, March 5th Carnevale Celebration
Marist College
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Wednesday, March 6th @9PM Roots & Ruckus
The Jalopy Theatre and School of Music
315 Columbia Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Thursday, March 7th @ 10PM CANTU: an exploration of the Italian peninsula through it’s history of folk music
Mercy College
66 West 35th Street
New York, NY

Traditional Solemn Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph in Newark, New Jersey

February 20, 2019

Feast of San Leone, Vescovo di Catania

Icon of San Leone di Catania
February 20th is the Feast Day of San Leone, Vescovo di Catania. Patron saint of Rometta (ME), Longi (ME), Sinagra (ME) and Saracena (CS), he was renowned for his compassion and charity. Due to the many healing miracles attributed to him, San Leone was also known as a thaumaturge, or "wonderworker."

Though kind and generous, the beloved Bishop was not one to be trifled with. According to popular legend, a wicked and troublesome magician named Heliodorus (Eliodoro) would regularly harass San Leone and cause disturbances during Mass. Sowing confusion and doubt among the laity with black magic, the fiend repeatedly refused San Leone’s requests to cease and repent.

Fed up with sorcerer’s impudence (and fearful for the wellbeing of his parishioners) San Leone ordered a bonfire built in the piazza. Dragging Heliodorus by his collar, together they jumped onto the burning pyre. Consumed by the flames the charlatan was immolated, leaving behind a pile of smoldering ash. Dusting off his omophorion (shoulder vestment), San Leone returned to the church unscathed and triumphant.

In commemoration, I’m posting a Prayer to San Leone di Catania. Evviva San Leone!
Prayer to San Leone di Catania
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of San Leone di Catania may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his festival, we may also imitate his actions. Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of San Leone protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

February 19, 2019

2019 Italo-Byzantine Pilgrimage

16 Land Days Touring the Italo-Byzantine Heritage of Calabria, Sicily and Rome Conducted by Alfredo De Bonis and Economos Romanos V. Russo

DATES: Friday, May 24 to Monday June 10, 2019
Cost per person double occupancy: $4595
Single supplement: $850
Price based on minimum of 25
Information: 732-910-5244

DAY 0:

10:00AM: Arrive in Rome go to Hotel Museum (formally Alimandi) or similar
3-6 pm: Introductory bus tour of Rome
7;00pm: Vespers at the Russicum with a visit before to Santa Maria Maggiore
9:00PM: Dinner out

7:30AM: Breakfast in Hotel
10:00am: Liturgy at Santa Maria in Cosmedin
12:00pm: Lunch at Sora Lella Isola Tiberiana
DINNER on your own

12:00PM: Lunch at Giulio
2:30PM: Optional Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums & the Basilica
5:30pm: Free time to shop and visit the Byzantine book store in Borgo Pio
Dinner on your own

7:00AM: Breakfast at Hotel
10:10AM: Train to Lamezia Calabria. Frecciabianca: 8873
3:13PM: Arrive in Lamezia. Our SAT driver will meet us to take us to our hotel.
7:30PM. Dinner in Hotel

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
8:30AM: Leave for visit to Rossano(Codex Purpureus) possible the & Santa Maria del Patire: 1h 30m/ 86K
7:00PM : Dinner at hotel

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
8:00AM; Bus for Lungro Ascension Thursday Liturgy at the Cathedral. 1h 30m/ 66K
Lungro to San Cosmo Albanese: 1h/50 K
6PM: Return to hotel /Dinner in hotel

7:00AM: Breakfast at Hotel
8:30AM: Bags on Bus leave for Cefalu: 5 hours 360 K
2:00PM: Arrive at Cefalu for afternoon visit & lunch.
Time to visit the Duomo, shop and explore the town
4;00PM: Leave Cefalu for Palermo hotel: 1h./69K
5:30PM: Arrive in Hotel
7:30PM: Leave for dinner

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
Day Visit in Palermo. Starting with a visit to the market Ballero’, then to the Duomo & Shrine of Santa Rosalia, finally visit to the Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace.
1:00PM: Lunch of typical Sicilian “Street Foods”
3PM: Guided visit to the Golden Cathedral of Montreale
7:00PM: Vespers at the Matorana
Dinner on your own

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
8:00 AM: Leave for Piana degli Albanesi for Divine Liturgy :35m/24K
After Liturgy enjoy a famous local cannoli & cappuccino
2PM: Light lunch on the way to Santa Cristina Gela: 7m/5K

Breakfast in Hotel
Visit to the Italo-Albanian Town of Contessa Entellina: 2 h./84K
Dinner at local ristorante

Breakfast in Hotel
Day to explore some other Italo-Byzantine villages
From Palermo to Mezzojuso 1 h 42K
From Mezzojuso to Palazzo Adriana(Cinema Paradiso) 1h/42K
Lunch at local/Dinner on your own

Breakfast in Hotel
10AM: Leave for Palermo airport check in for flight
1:45PM:-3pm Flight to Fiumicino 1h. 10m 3:15-4:24
Dinner at local

7:00am: Breakfast in Hotel
Dinner on your own

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
8:30AM: Tour of Santa Maria Antiqua
1:00PM: Quick lunch followed by a walking tour of historic central Rome including the Pantheon & Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
7:30PM: Gather in lobby to go for dinner

Meet at Greek College by the Spanish Steps for Vespers
Dinner out

7:00AM: Breakfast in hotel
9:30AM: Leave for Monastery of San Nilo in Grottoferrata for Liturgy; 45m/21K
11:00AM: Divine Liturgy
1:00PM: Leave for Ariccia for Porchetta lunch
7:30PM: Gala Dinner at Memmo with night walk thru Piazza Navona

7:00AM: Leave for Fiumicino for flight to New York

• 16 Days touring in Italo-Byzantine sites in Rome, Calabria & Sicily in our private a/c bus
• Stay at 3 or 4 Star hotels
• 15 Buffet breakfast in the hotels /6 Lunches
• 11 Dinners either set menu or ala carte
• Visit to various religious sites in Rome, Calabria and Sicily to attend Liturgy
• Visit to the abbey of San Nilo in Grottaferrata with a porchetta lunch after in Ariccia
• Flight from Palermo to Rome
• Tips for the drivers

• Round trip New York /Rome
• Beverages with meals
• Optional tours: Vatican Museum & Basilica tour: Price TBA

February 17, 2019

2019 Feasts & Processions in Boston’s North End

St. Anthony Bandstand 
Photo by Matt Conti, courtesy of northendboston.com
Source: http://www.northendboston.com/visit/feasts/

June 2, 2019 – Santa Maria Di Anzano Procession
1:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets (First Sunday of June)

June 2019 (Date TBD) – Saint Anthony of Padua Procession
5:00 pm Mass at St. Leonard Church
6:00 pm Candelit Procession – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

June 23, 2019 – Saint Padre Pio Procession
2:00 Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

July 7, 2019 – Madonna delle Grazie Procession
2:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Leonard Church, Hanover & Prince Streets

July 14, 2019 – San Rocco Procession
1:30 pm Procession only – Starts at US Coast Guard Base, Commercial Street

July 28, 2019 – St. Joseph Procession
1:00 pm Procession only – Starts at St. Joseph Society Club, Hanover Street

August 1, 2, 3, & 4, 2019 – St. Agrippina di Mineo Feast
Feast opens at 7:00 pm on Thursday; 12pm-11pm Fri., Sat. & Sun. (First weekend in August) Hanover & Battery Streets (12:00pm Sunday Procession)

August 9, 10 & 11, 2019 – Madonna Della Cava Feast
Feast opens at 7:00 pm on Friday; 12pm-11pm Sat. & Sun.
Hanover & Battery Streets (1:00pm Sunday Procession)

August 15, 16, 17 & 18, 2019
Fisherman’s Feast of the Madonna Del Soccorso di Sciacca

Thursday, 6pm, Blessing of the Fishing Waters at Christopher Columbus Park
Feast opens at 6:00 pm on Friday; 12pm-11pm Sat. & Sun.
Sunday 1:00 pm Grand Procession starts; 8:00 pm Flight of the Angel
Fleet, Lewis & North Streets

August 22, 2019 – St. Lucy’s Feast
Thacher & Endicott Streets
5:00 pm Thursday Feast & Procession

August 23, 24 & 25, 2019

Saint Anthony’s Feast – 100th Anniversary!
Endicott, Thacher & N. Margin Streets (Last weekend in August)
Feast opens at 7:00 pm on Friday; 12pm-11pm Sat. & Sun.
Sunday: 12:00 pm Grand Procession starts

September 8, 2019 – Santa Rosalia di Palermo
1:00 pm – Procession only – North Square Facebook page

September 2019 (Dates TBD) – San Gennaro Feast
Hanover & Battery Streets Facebook page

Learn more about the North End’s Religious Societies.

Catch the latest North End Feast News on NorthEndWaterfront.com/feasts and Feast Photos at MattConti.com.

* All schedules and activities are subject to change, so please check with organizers for any updates.

February 16, 2019

Feast of Santa Giuliana di Nicomedia (St. Juliana)

Evviva Santa Giuliana!
February 16th is the Feast Day of Santa Giuliana di Nicomedia (c.285-c.305), Virgin and Martyr. Protector of Frasso Telesino (BN) and Frattamaggiore (NA), she is the patron saint of pregnant women and the sick. According to tradition, Giuliana was born to a noble family in Nicomedia. She converted to Christianity and refused to marry her betrothed, who was a pagan. Denounced as a Christian, she was tortured and eventually beheaded during the great persecutions under Emperor Diocletian. She was only 18 years old. Her remains were to be transferred to Rome, but ended up at Cuma when the ship sank off the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. [Alternate versions claim she was originally from Cuma and the Nicomedian birth and translation were later embellishments to her story.] In 1207 the saint’s relics were translated to Naples, after Cuma was conquered by the Neapolitans. They are currently preserved in the crypt of San Guglielmo at the Santuario di Montevergine in Avellino. In commemoration I’m posting a prayer to St. Juliana of Nicomedia.
Prayer to St. Juliana of Nicomedia
Lord God, You gave St. Juliana the crown of eternal joy because she gave her life rather than renounce the virginity she had promised in witness to Christ. Encouraged by her generosity, help us to rise out of the bondage of our earthly desires and attain to the glory of your kingdom. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. One God, for ever and ever. Amen 

Farewell Nibs

Requiescat in Pace John Napoli, Sr.
April 16, 1944—February 12, 2019
Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

February 15, 2019

Malta Walks NYC (February 2019)

This Tuesday, February 19th, at 7:30 PM join the Order of Malta Auxiliary for their monthly “Malta Walk” street ministry. Volunteers meet every third Tuesday of the month at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral parish house at 263 Mulberry Street in lower Manhattan to prepare and distribute food to the homeless.

Anyone interested in supporting this noble endeavor can contact the Order of Malta Auxiliary at nycaux@orderofmaltaamerican.org or call 917-566-3937. For additional information, the Order can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/maltaauxiliarynyc.

February 14, 2019

Feast of San Valentino Martire

Evviva San Valentino!
February 14th is the Feast Day of San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Day), Bishop and Martyr. He is the patron saint of happy marriages, love, courtship and beekeepers, as well as protector of citrus crops and protection against epilepsy and plague. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of San Valentino Torio (SA), Vico del Gargano (FG), Abriola (PZ), San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (PE) and Mafalda (CB), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Valentine. The accompanying photo comes courtesy of Oratorio San Valentino Torio, Salerno.
Prayer to Saint Valentine
Dear Saint and glorious martyr, teach us to love unselfishly and to find great joy in giving. Enable all true lovers to bring out the best in each other. Let them love each other in God and in God in each other. Amen.

Feast of Sant'Antonino di Sorrento

Sant'Antonino by Tommaso Solari
Piazza Tasso, Sorrento
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
February 14th is the Feast Day of Sant'Antonino Abate (Saint Antoninus of Sorrento), protector of Campagna (SA) and Sorrento (NA). 
Born circa 550 AD in Campagna, a small town in the Province of Salerno, Sant'Antonino entered a local Benedictine monastery (some sources say it was the Abbey of Monte Cassino). Forced to flee due to pillaging Lombards, he withdrew to Castellammare di Stabia where he lived as a hermit on Monte Aureo (now Monte Faito), the highest peak of the Lattari Mountains. Following a vision, he erected a sanctuary on the mountain top in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel with the help of his friend Saint Catellus (San Catello Vescovo). Popular among the people of Sorrento, Sant'Antonino eventually succeeded Saint Catellus as abbot of the Monastery of San Agrippino.
Sant'Antonino is reputed to have performed many miracles, including saving Sorrento from Saracen attacks in 1354 and 1358. It is said that he was buried, according to his dying wishes, within the city's ancient walls, thus making them impregnable. During a Lombard attack, the section containing the saint's remains withstood the assault. Legend tells us that Prince Sicard of Benevento was haunted (and beaten!) in his dreams by Sant'Antonino's cudgel wielding apparition until he lifted the siege. 
The Saint, however, is best remembered for rescuing a young child from a giant cetacean. According to the legend, several children were playing along the seashore when a sea creature sprung up and swallowed the boy whole. The child's distraught mother immediately sought help from Antonino. A crowed followed the holy man to the coast, where he called on them to pray for the child's safety. Miraculously, the monster returned and immediately released the frightened, but unharmed, child from its gaping maw.
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Sant'Antonino Abate. The accompanying photo was taken during my 2007 visit to Sorrento.
Prayer to Sant'Antonino Abate
Glorious San Antonino, beloved patron of Sorrento, you served God in humility and confidence on earth. In common supplication we turn to you, holy Father Antonino, our gentle patron, asking you to protect this city by the aid of your intercession. May its people be ever devoted to Christ and to you, by serving God and by loving and honoring you. Amen

February 13, 2019

Around the Web: Calabria Cultural Tour by Karen’s Travel LLC

Calabria Tour
10 Day Calabria Land Tour, June 1-10, 2019
Travel through the fascinating region in the toe of the Italian boot with Karen Haid, award-winning author of Calabria: The Other Italy on this in-depth Calabria tour. Enjoy spectacular scenery, visit quaint villages and world-class museums, learn all about Calabria yesterday and today while indulging in great food and wine. The itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrival to Lamezia TermeCosenza
Transfer from international airport or train station in Lamezia Terme to your 4-star hotel in Cosenza. Welcome cocktail with your guides and introduction to the program and walking tour of the old town. Dinner and overnight.
Day 2 – Rossano
Excursion to Rossano, renowned for its Byzantine history. Our guided tour of the old town will include the charming 10th-century church of San Marco, the Baroque cathedral and the newly refurbished Diocesan Museum, home to the Codex Purpureus Roassanenis, a rare 6th-century illuminated manuscript. Lunch at a local restaurant will be followed by a tour of the world-famous Amarelli Licorice Factory and Museum. Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 3 – Altomonte – Civita
Departure for a day in the Pollino Mountains. We will visit the medieval village of Altomonte, where we will have a traditional Bread Experience and lunch. In the afternoon we will visit Civita, an Arbereshe village set in the dramatic Raganello Gorge with its spectacular Devil’s Bridge. Founded in the 15th century, Civita preserves its Albanian heritage through language, an original Italian-Albanian Church with Mass in the Byzantine rite and folkloristic “talking houses.” Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 4 – Sila – Santa Severina – Le Castella
Departure for Santa Severina by way of the Sila mountain plateau, known as the gran bosco d’Italia or Italy’s great forest. We will stop at a protected nature reserve and walk amongst the Giants of Fallistro, majestic centuries-old pinewood trees. Lunch will be served in a quaint mountain village, where we will have the opportunity to sample local products and admire handicrafts. Moving on to Santa Severina, one of the Borghi più Belli d’Italia (Most Beautiful Villages of Italy), we will visit the medieval town with its Diocesan Museum, Byzantine Baptistry and castle that tells its 1,200-year history. In the afternoon, departure to Le Castella and a visit of its Aragon fortress. Return to hotel, dinner and overnight.
Day 5 – Palmi – Scilla – Reggio Calabria
Checkout and departure for Palmi to visit the House of Culture with its ethnographic museum that showcases objects related to Calabrian traditions, religion, folklore and superstition. We will then proceed to Monte Sant’Elia to admire the Strait of Messina’s amazing panorama from a vantage point where three active volcanoes—Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano—can be seen. Continuing on to Scilla, we will stroll through its picturesque fishing quarter called Chianalea. Lunch will feature swordfish, the local specialty, in a restaurant overlooking the Ruffo Castle atop the legendary promontory of Homer’s Odyssey. In the afternoon, departure to Reggio Calabria to visit the National Archeological Museum where the famous Riace Bronzes are exhibited. Free time for shopping and/or a long walk on the seafront, described by poet Gabriele D’Annunzio as “the most beautiful kilometer of Italy.” Check in to 4* hotel in Reggio, dinner on your own and overnight.
Day 6 – Bova – Pentedattilo
Today we will move to the Area Grecanica, the Greek area of Calabria. We will visit Bova, the last town to abandon the Orthodox rite in the 16th century and where people still speak a Greek language. Bova is one of only eighteen villages designated as a Jewel of Italy. Lunch in a nearby agriturismo set in a Bergamot Orchard. On the way back to Reggio, short stop at the ghost town of Pentedattilo. Return to hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.
Day 7 – Gerace – Casignana
Checkout and departure to Gerace, another of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy. We will tour the medieval Norman town and enjoy a lunch of regional dishes at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, a visit to the Villa Casignana reveals the remains of an opulent Roman home, complete with thermal baths and exquisite mosaic floors. Continue to Catanzaro Lido, check in to 4* hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.
Day 8 – Winery – Scolacium
Our delightful winery visit will culminate in an abundant sampling of local foods (lunch) with which to enjoy the wine. In the afternoon, continue to the Scolacium Archeological Park for a guided tour of this unique site, where thousands of years of history unfold amidst a lovely olive grove along the Ionian Sea. Return to hotel, dinner on your own and overnight.
Day 9 – Tropea – Pizzo
Departure to Tropea, a famous seaside town, known not only for its spectacular setting on the Tyrrhenian Sea, but also for its sweet red onions. Free time to explore the town and lunch on your own. In the afternoon, a visit to Pizzo Calabro to admire the evocative cave church of Piedigrotta and the Murat Castle. Special gelato tasting with demonstration. Return to hotel, farewell dinner and overnight.
Day 10 – Departure, transfer to Lamezia Terme Airport.
Calabria Tour basics:
$2500 per person, $250 single supplement (USD)
Tour accompanied by Karen Haid, author of Calabria: The Other Italy, together with an expert Local Guide
Transportation and tours as outlined above are included (airfare not included)
9 nights in 4* hotels, breakfast daily, 7 lunches, 5 dinners, wine and water included with meals
Calabria tour designed for a group between 15 and 25 participants.
Read about the founding of Karen’s Travel LLC and the inspiration for this Calabria tour on my 100th blogpost New Calabria Cultural Tour with Karen’s Travel LLC. To sign up for this Calabria tour or for more information, please use the Contact Page – looking forward to hearing from you! Don’t hesitate to ask questions about this exciting, new Calabria tour! Click on the highlighted links in the itinerary and browse My Italian Blog for more information and photos of Calabria.

February 11, 2019

Feast of the Madonna di Lourdes

Ave Maria
February 11th is the Feast Day of the Madonna di Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes), patroness of those who are sick. The celebration recalls the eighteen Marian apparitions that appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 at the grotto of Massabielle near the River Gave in southern France. In commemoration I’m posting the Our Lady of Lourdes Prayer for Healing. The accompanying photo was taken at the Shrine Church of St. Bernadette in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
Our Lady of Lourdes Prayer for Healing 
O ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

Announcing the 49th Annual Feast of Maria Santissima Incoronata in Orange, New Jersey

Also see: A Look at the 46th Anniversary Feast of Maria Santissima Incoronata in Orange, Nw Jersey

February 10, 2019

Briganti Field Trip: Maker of Middle-Earth Exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum

Lamppost banner on Madison Avenue
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
"It's like lightning from a clear sky!" ~ C.S. Lewis, review of The Fellowship of the Ring
For our first official gathering, members of Il Regno’s nascent Briganti Book and Gaming Club met Saturday afternoon at the Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue) in Manhattan to view the newly installed J.R.R. Tolkien exhibit, “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth.” Previously on view at the Weston Library in Oxford, England, the show will run from January 25 through May 12, 2019. 
Arriving early, our fellowship entered the Engelhard Gallery on the second floor through a replica hobbit hole doorway and leisurely perused it’s many wondrous objects. Displayed on walls and beneath glass cases, the space featured a nice selection of family photographs, memorabilia, illustrations, maps, manuscripts and designs connected to Tolkien’s Middle-earth (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion). Boasting 117 items in all, the exhibit is touted as “the largest collection of Tolkien material ever assembled in the United States.” Sadly, photography is strictly prohibited in the gallery.
In addition to the installations, a series of related programs are being offered for children and adults throughout the duration of the exhibit. During our visit, we were very happy to hear the cartography class geared for children ages 8-14 was sold out. The next event scheduled will be the “Tolkien and Inspiration: A Multidisciplinary Symposium” on Saturday, March 16th at 2:00PM. The full calendar of events is available online.
Having read (and loved) Tolkien’s books at an early age, they were very influential in my development. Along with the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Beowulf, the Brothers Grimm, et al., they were the fountainhead of my passion for fantasy and science fiction (SF) and led me to the works of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft, not to mention Homer, Virgil, and Snorri Sturluson.
The Hobbit DVD
Admittedly, my first exposure to Tolkien wasn’t from reading, but through the animated television special of The Hobbit (1977), directed by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass (Rankin/Bass Productions). Though a young boy, I still remember it like it was yesterday. Feeling a little under the weather, my mother tucked me into my parents’ bed because their bedroom had a spare television set. She must have known about the premier before hand because the timing was just right.
Doing a little Internet sleuthing, I learned the cartoon aired on Sunday, November 27, 1977.

Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, I watched in wonder as Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, and a company of dwarves battled giant spiders, trolls, warg riding goblins, and, of course, the dragon Smaug. Up till then, my experience with SF was limited to comic books and the old black and white movies I watched with my grandfather, like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, King Kong, and so forth. Much like Andy Serkis’ acclaimed portrayal in the later Peter Jackson trilogy, Gollum was one of the more memorable characters in the film.
A few years later, I would be able to watch the cartoon as often as I pleased when my father brought home an RCA Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) player. The Hobbit, as well as Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (Warner Brothers, 1978), was among the handful of “video discs” I had before the outmoded system was replaced by the short-lived Betamax format. I believe my long-lost copy of The Return of the King (Rankin/Bass Productions, 1980) was on VHS.
The other CED discs I remember owning were Time Bandits (1981), The Bad News Bears (1976) and the highly inappropriate Barbarella (1968) starring Jane Fonda. The latter, unquestionably, was mistakenly conflated with Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, because there was no way my parents would have knowingly allowed me to watch a naked strumpet floating around in outer space, but I digress.
My autographed cel from Ralph Bakshi's animated The Lord of the Rings movie
Not one to collect pop memorabilia (books and art postcards are my weakness), I do possess two items of note. The first is an autographed cel from Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings film depicting the heroic hobbit Frodo Baggins holding his uncle Bilbo’s elvish blade Sting to Gollum’s exposed and cadaverous throat. The other is a limited edition Frank Frazetta "Women of the Ages" portfolio signed by the artist. Both items were a gift from an old friend.
Frazetta, like Tolkien, was very inspirational to me. His pen and ink illustrations of The Lord of the Rings in my, sadly falling apart, first edition copy of Frank Frazetta: The Living Legend (Sun Litho Print/Frank Frazer, 1981) are among my favorites. Ironically, Frazetta’s dark and sinister drawings are more how I envision Middle-earth to be than Tolkien’s own illustrations, despite how beautiful they are. 
An immodest Éowyn decapitating a Fell Beast 
from my copy of Frank Frazetta: The Living Legend
Having in the past only seen some of the amazing artifacts on display at the Morgan Library & Museum in books or magazines, it was a great thrill to actually view the originals in person—similar to when I got to see Otto Dix’s Der Krieg prints, which I was so fascinated with as an adolescent, at the “Chaos and Classicism” exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in 2010. While we can never underestimate the importance of reproductions in print and online galleries, they almost never do justice to the originals; nor can they take the place of experiencing art in the flesh.
Before leaving, I picked up few souvenirs: (L-R) Museum bulletin; Tolkien: Treasures by Catherine McIlwaine; crankshaft music box that plays "Happy Birthday;" and postcards (Hunting the Wild Boar; Running Eros, Holding a Torch; Bellerophon Killing the Chimera; Conversion of St. Humbert; and The Siren)
Be that as it may, I still bought myself a keepsake copy of Catherine McIlwaine's illustrated exhibition catalogue Tolkien: Treasures (Boldleian Library, 2018) and a few postcards for my collection.
If you are a fan, the “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” exhibit is definitely worth the trip. It brought back a lot of great childhood memories and has me itching to read the books again. See it before it leaves for the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris later this year.
For more on the Morgan Library & Museum and “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” visit www.themorgan.org.


Afterward, we took the opportunity to explore the beautiful Morgan Library and Museum collection. Highlights included:
Ceramic relief by the Renaissance sculptor Lucia della Robbia (1400-1482) on the rotunda ceiling over the door opposite the library's grand entrance.
Pierpont Morgan's 1906 Library
The Guttenberg Bible
Jeweled cover of the Lindau Gospels, France,
workshop of Charles the Bald, ca. 870-80 
Running Eros, Holding a Torch,
Boscoreale, Campania, second or first century BC
Blast: Review of the Great English Vortex,
No. 2
by Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)

Feast of Santa Scolastica

Evviva Santa Scolastica!
February 10th is the Feast Day of Santa Scolastica (c. 480-February 10, 543), virgin and foundress of the Benedictine Sisters. Twin sister of San Benedetto da Nursia, she consecrated herself to God at an early age. Santa Scolastica is the patron saint of Benedictine nuns, schools, learning and convulsive children. She is also invoked against storms and is the protectress of Sant'Omero in Provincia di Teramo, Abruzzo.

In commemoration I’m posting a Prayer to St. Scholastica. The accompanying photo was taken during my 2007 pilgrimage to Abbey of Monte Cassino in southern Italy.
Prayer to Saint Scholastica
As we celebrate anew the Memorial of the Virgin Saint Scholastica, we pray, O Lord, that, following her example, we may serve you with pure love and happily receive what comes from loving you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

February 9, 2019

Feast of San Corrado di Baviera

San Corrado by Nicolò Scardigno
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
February 9th is the Feast Day of San Corrado di Baviera (St. Conrad of Bavaria), patron of Molfetta, Puglia. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer to San Corrado. The photo on the right was taken at Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey. Unveiled on July 14, 2013, the statue was sculpted by Lyndhurst, New Jersey native Nicolò Scardigno in honor of his parents, Salvatore and Anna, who hail from Molfetta. The picture below was taken at the The Madonna Dei Martiri Social Club in Hoboken, New Jersey, where large numbers of immigrants from Molfetta settled and founded The Madonna Dei Martiri Society.
Preghiera a San Corrado Patrono di Molfetta
San Corrado, Madonna Dei Martiri
Social Club, Hoboken, New Jersey
Penitentissimo mio S. Corrado la divina provvidenza che vi chiamò da Francia in Palestina, e poi da terra Santa vi guidò fino a Bari, a singolarizzare con tanti lunghi pellegrinaggi, e con romitaggi sempre più aspri la vostra penitenza. Per quell'amore ardentissimo col quale visitaste quei Sacri luoghi, santificate colle pedate, coi sudori, e col sangue del Redentore, per quelle penitenze colle quali voleste divenire tutto somiglianti al Redentore Crocifisso; Per quell'affetto col quale emulaste le virtu, ed onoraste il sepolcro di S. Nicolò, impetratemi; vi supplico gratitudine di corrispondenza operative alle piaghe di Gesù Cristo vera contrizione dei miel peccati, e tempo e modo da farne dovuta penitenza.

Feast of San Sabino di Avellino

The relic of San Sabino di Avellino at St. Lucy's Church, Newark, New Jersey
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
February 9th is the Feast of San Sabino di Avellino, Bishop of Abellinum and patron of Atripalda. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to San Sabino.(1) The accompanying photo of the saint's relic was taken at Saint Lucy's Church, National Shrine of Saint Gerard in Newark, New Jersey.
Prayer to Saint Sabino
Lean down from Heaven our great protector St. Sabino, who from amongst all cities chose Atripalda as your last abode and final resting place. Here your holy bones still exude precious manna that assures us of your presence with us for all time. You have given your people copious graces and all who invoke your powerful name. We beg you, keep far from us all the divine punishments, render our fields fertile, keep the contagion of disease far from us, save us from earthquake and protect us from every evil, especially the evil of sin. Abundantly rain down your blessings upon us and our brothers who are far from us in America. Amen. 
(1) The Prayer to Saint Sabino was reprinted from the placard at the base of the statue.

February 8, 2019

Fundraising for the displaced people of Pomarico

Ciao a tutti,
On January 29th the town of my Grandmother's family, Pomarico, MT, was hit by a horrific natural disaster. There was a tremendous landslide, caused by heavy rains, that not only wiped out an important part of its historic center, but also left at least 50 families homeless. The area is in a state of emergency and the “ANPAS - PROTEZIONE CIVILE" has been on the scene providing relief and assistance. Everyone is doing a great job, but they need help…. meaning money. Even the smallest contribution will be greatly appreciated and help in restoring the area and return the families to their homes. I thank you all and, as always, appreciate your continued support!
Click Link to donate. If you would rather a wire transfer or if you know someone that would like to contribute and doesn't have Facebook message me or Giuseppe Innocenzo Liccese for the bank information.
May San Michele pray for you and may God bless you and your families!!!

The Search for our Ancestry (LVI)

A Flood of On-Line Records
By Angelo Coniglio
A belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (‘LDS’ or ‘Mormon’) is that reunion with family and ancestors in the afterlife is possible if those ancestors are properly identified and included in one’s ‘family tree’. This has led the church to find and record documents from all over the world, including birth, baptism, marriage and death records, as well as other ‘vital statistics.’ These documents were photographed or photocopied and reproduced in miniaturized form on microfiche or microfilm. A microfiche is a small (4 in. by 5 in.) sheet of celluloid that can hold many miniaturized images. A microfilm is similar, with the images on a roll of celluloid film. The microfilms have ‘still’ images of records, not motion pictures. Both 16 millimeter and 35 millimeter film was used. A magnifying viewer is required for both fiches and films, and usually such viewers are dual-purpose. 
Eventually, microfiches were phased out, and microfilm was the main resource for researching the records compiled by the LDS. These were available for rental to anyone (including non-Mormons) for a small charge, and once they were shipped to local Mormon Family History Centers (FHCs) they were viewable there for free, to any patron. The microfilms are organized by city or town of origin, then by civil or ecclesiastic records, then by year and type. The research approach was to determine one’s ancestral town, then order the microfilm for that town for the year(s) of interest and the type of record to be searched (civil birth, marriage or death, church baptism, etc.).
In recent years, the LDS church began uploading images of the records held on microfilm to its on-line site, www.familysearch.org and currently, all but a .few Sicilian and Italian records are available, to one degree or another, on line. This was done because of the ephemeral nature of microfilm: it won’t last forever. Before further discussing online images, the terms involved should be understood:
Digitizing is the process of scanning an image (whether from a sheet of paper or from a microfilm) and reproducing it in electronic format that can be stored on a computer, viewed, transmitted, etc. When you scan a photo that was made ‘the old-fashioned way’ with photographic film and printed on paper, and store that image on your computer or post it on Facebook, etc, you are ‘digitizing’ that photo. The LDS has on microfilm over 3.5 billion images of individual records that had to be digitized.
Once a microfilm film and its records are digitized, the images can be made available on line. These images, obviously, are in Italian, and researching them is no different in principle than scrolling through a microfilm. Image enhancement does make some of the records clearer than those on the original microfilm. To make searches less difficult, the LDS is in the process of ‘indexing’ these on-line images.
Indexing requires a person (in this case one of many volunteers) to view an image of each record and to enter summarized information in a predetermined format that can then be ‘searched’ by users. For example, from a detailed birth record, the indexer might record the birth date and place, the child’s name and the names of its parents. Then a researcher (you) can go to the desired town’s records on the familysearch site and enter, say, the child’s name to see the transcribed information, in English, often with a link to the image of the actual original record.

Using indexed material may make it easier to find information, but I recommend that even if indexed, you should always view the original record if possible. There are at least two reasons for this: 1) only bare-bones information is indexed. The summary of a birth, for example, won’t give the father’s age or occupation, nor the street address where the child was born, nor other facts that may be seen only on the original record; and 2) the indexed record is a secondary record. Someone has read the original and entered information as he/she interpreted it. Dates, names and places may be incorrect, because of the unfamiliarity of the indexer with the original language or handwriting. Often these errors mean that when you search by name, the record can’t be found, only because the indexer has misspelled the name.
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by his Sicilian research. Order the paperback or the Kindle version at www.bit.ly/SicilianStory Coniglio’s web page at http://bit.ly/AFCGen has helpul hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at genealogytips@aol.com.

February 7, 2019

Feast of San Lorenzo Maiorano, Vescovo di Siponto

Relic from the Basilica Santuario
San Michele (New York Scugnizzo)
February 7th is the Feast Day of San Lorenzo Maiorano, Bishop of Siponto and patron of Manfredonia in Provincia di Foggia, in Apulia. According to tradition, the Archangel Michael appeared to the Bishop three times and ordered him to build a chapel on top of the cave on Monte Gargano, once a sanctuary of the god Mithras. 
It is said, the first apparition manifested in 490 when a rich lord’s prized bull wondered off and was later discovered kneeling at the mouth of the old Mithraeum. Unable to get the beast to leave, the man shot an arrow at it, but instead of striking the bull the shaft turned around and wounded him. Mystified by the event, the injured man went to consult San Lorenzo, who instructed the citizens to fast and pray for three days. At the end of the third day, the Archangel Michael appeared to the Bishop and said: 
“I am Michael the Archangel and am always in the presence of God. I chose the cave that is sacred to me. There will be no more shedding of bull’s blood. Where the rocks open widely, the sins of men may be pardoned. What is asked here in prayer will be granted. Therefore, go up to the mountain cave and dedicate it to the Christian God.”
Confused and doubting his faculties, San Lorenzo dismissed the vision. 
The Tauroctony
New York Scugnizzo
Two years later, Siponto came under attack by a barbarian host. At the brink of capitulation, St. Michael (with flaming sword in hand) again visited the Bishop, promising to break the siege and save the city if the Sipontini would take the fight to the invaders. Heartened by the news, the defenders abandoned the safety of their walls and charged their foe on the field of battle. A violent storm of hail and lightning miraculously whipped up in support and the enemy were completely routed. The victory is commemorated on May 8th.
Revealing himself for a third time, the Archangel Michael commanded San Lorenzo to go into the cave. Upon entering, the Bishop discovered an altar with a scarlet cloth, a cross, and a footprint in the stone, said to be St. Michael’s. Consecrated by the Angel himself, San Lorenzo and the people of Siponto celebrated Mass for the first time in the grotto on September 29, 493.
In commemoration I’m posting a prayer to San Lorenzo Maiorano. The accompanying photo of the relic from the Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano was taken during the 2nd Annual Feast of St. Michael the Archangel at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy, New York. The photo of the mid-2nd-early-3rd century A.D. bronze relief of Mithras slaying the bull (Tauroctony), was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Prayer to San Lorenzo Maiorano
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of San Lorenzo Maiorano may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his festival, we may also imitate his actions. Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of San Lorenzo protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.