December 7, 2016

Feast of Sant’Ambrogio

Evviva Sant'Ambrogio!
December 7th is the Feast Day of Sant’Ambrogio (St. Ambrose), Confessor and Doctor of the Church. Protector of the Sicilian comunes of Cerami in Enna, and Buccheri in Siracusa, St. Ambrose is also, inter alia, the patron saint of Bee keepers, candle makers and students. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to St. Ambrose. The accompanying photo was taken at Saint Michael's Church (29 Wooster Place) in New Haven, Connecticut
Prayer to St. Ambrose
O God, You give blessed Ambrose to Your people as a minister of eternal salvation; grant, we pray You, that as on earth he was a teacher of supernatural life, so we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven. Amen.

Neapolitan Music for Christmas

Looking for some last-minute stocking stuffer ideas? Wrap up your Christmas shopping with a culturally rewarding gift. I highly recommend these CDs featuring 17th and 18th century Christmas music from Naples.
• Peppe Barra: La Cantata Dei Pastori
• Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas I
• Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas II
All are available at

December 6, 2016

Feast of San Nicola di Bari

Viva San Nicola!
December 6th is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the wonderworker, patron saint of children and sailors. His generosity and love for young ones is the inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus. 
Born in the Lycian city of Patara in the third century, Saint Nicholas dedicated his life to God and served as bishop of Myra until his death in 343 AD. Many miracles were attributed to him and his tomb became a popular destination for pilgrims. The Saint's bones also exuded manna, a clear liquid that was reputed to have healing properties. 
In 1087, after Myra fell under the control of the Seljuk Empire, Barese mariners spirited his relics back to Bari before they could be desecrated. The translation of his relics to the Basilica di San Nicola was cause for celebration and each May 9th, with great fanfare, the Barese reenact his arrival by taking a statue and icon of the Saint out to sea and back again. The miracle of the manna continues to this very day. Holy water infused with the precious liquid is distributed to the faithful. 
To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting A Prayer For Children. The accompanying photo of Saint Nicholas was taken at Saint Dominic RC Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York.
A Prayer For Children
God, our Father, we pray that through the intercession of Saint Nicholas you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy of Your sight.
Give them strength to keep their Faith in You, and to keep alive their joy in Your creation. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Also see: Photo of the Week: St. Nicholas, the Fasting Child

The Onorati Family

Frontispiece from volume 10, delle cose Rustiche,
showing "Columella" from the Genealogia della
famiglia Onorati
by Pasquale Mauro Maria Onorati
Reprinted from the December 2016 Craco Society Bulletin
As we work to translate the Tesi Master of Pasquale Onorati about the notable Crachese, “Columella” (Father Nicola Onorati) an understanding of his family history is important. Not only does this genealogy provide an insight into the family but it also gives us an understanding of Craco’s history. The 20 year long work of Pasquale Mauro Maria Onorati provides us with great detail about his ancestors and their lives in Craco. 
The Onorati family planted its roots in Craco in the mid-1700s. Prior to that the family history identifies ten saints with the Onorati surname including one martyred under Massimiano and Diocletian, who also ordered San Vincenzo’s martyrdom. 
The founding ancestor in Craco was Francesco Antonio Onorati. He was born in San Mauro Forte, another hilltop town about 27 kilometers north of Craco, on January 14, 1727 and moved to Craco at a young age where he set up a tailor shop. Francesco married Vittoria Mormando in Craco on July 11, 1748. Vittoria was born in Craco about 1726. They had nine children: 
1) Vincenzo Giovanni Vito (1749) who married Giulia Manghise 
2) Giulia Angela Maria (1751) became a nun 
3) Margherita Rosa Domenica (1753) unmarried 
4) Fedele Prospero Giuseppe Maria (1755) 
5) Giovanni Giuseppe Prospero (1758) married Lucrezia Francavilla 
6) Stillbirth (1761) 
7) Giuseppe Prospero Gaetano (1762) 
8) Gaetano Niccola Bartolomeo, “Columella” (1764) 
9) Giuseppe Maria Maurizio (1771) married Rosa Maria Laviola in Pisticci. 
Through the children who married to other well established families the Onorati family extended into the Craco community. But only two of those unions produced children who would carry the surname forward for a generation in Craco before it faded there. The present day Onorati family comes from the branch that developed in Pisticci. The Onorati family in Craco emerged this way: 
• Vincenzo and Giulia Menghise had 10 children. Two daughters, Maria Maddelena (1780) who married Nicola Mora (son of Nicola and Vittoria Elia) and Angela Maria Elisabetta Fortunata (1793) married Andrea D’Addiego (son of Pietro and Maddelena Chianito) were childless. However, Vittoria Onorati (1800) who was unmarried had three children which carried the Onorati surname in Craco, they were Tommaso Vincenzo Fortunato (1818), Francesco Antonio Carmine (1820), and Maria Maddalena (1826). 
• Giovanni Giuseppe Prospero and Lucrezia Francavilla had six children but none produced any offspring. 
• Giuseppe Maria Maurizio Onorati and Rosa Maria Laviola settled in Pisticci where they had three children. It was from this branch that the Onorati line descended which exists today. 
Of the Onorati children from Vittoria in Craco, only Francesco Antonio Carmine who married Lucia Maria Torraca (1830) in 1851 had children. Of their four children only Vincenzo Antonio Onorati (1854) who married Maria Rosia Forgione had a child but she died at age 3. 
However, there were family tree kinships created by the marriage of Francesco Antiono and Lucia Maria Torraca with connections to today’s Society members in the Francavilla, Guariglia, Leone, Modena, and Torraca families. 
The Onorati genealogy notes a strong connection to religious life prior to arriving in Craco and that was extended by Sister Giulia Angela Maria and Fr. Gaetano Niccola Bartolomeo (“Columella”) who were joined by a nephew, Don Francesco Antonio Giuseppe Vincenzo Fortunato Onorati (1796), a son of Giovanni and Lucrezia Francavilla. 
“Columella” as a gifted child was exposed at an early age to the local Franciscan monastery in Craco for education. In 1774 he realized his calling by joining the order. His genius was such that by the age of 15 he was a professor of philosophy in Naples! 
The history of Craco by Prof. D’Angella tells us the Franciscan monastery was founded in 1620 and built over a ten year period. The clerics there were part of the the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.) that was founded by St. Francis of Assisi. It served as a place of learning and it was the only place locally that could nurture the prodigy, “Columella.” 
The connection with the Onorati family in Craco and the monastery remained even after death. Sister Giulia Angela Maria Onorati was buried under the main altar there in 1784. Over the subsequent years several other of her siblings and family members were also buried there. 

December 5, 2016

Photo of the Week: St. Nicholas, the Fasting Child

Southern Italian agate cameo with gold frame showing the infant Nicholas refusing his mother's milk. According to legend, the precocious infant would abstain from nursing each Wednesday and Friday, serving as an exemplar for fasting and abstinence. Carved about 1200-1250, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by New York Scugnizzo 

The Pipes of the Mezzogiorno

Zampogna, Metropolitan Museum of Art 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
The bagpipes are an ancient instrument, dating back thousands of years; they're even mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 4:21). Here in America we normally associate the bagpipes with the Irish and Scottish, who have a long and storied tradition with this wonderful instrument. However, many Americans, even those of Italian ancestry, are unaware that Italy has an ancient bagpipe tradition of it's own. Ironically, this tradition is not in the North where there was Celtic influence, but rather in the South, with its ancient Hellenic heritage.
Each year, beginning at the feast of the Immaculate Conception right through the Christmas season, peasant musicians, called pifferari e zampognari (fifers and pipers), make their way from town to town playing traditional songs. The pifferari e zampognari are so much a part of the Christmas tradition in Southern Italy that they have become customary characters, almost as obligatory as the Magi, in the elaborate Neapolitan presepio or Nativity scene (another venerable Southern Italian folk art dedicated to the holiday season). Continue reading

December 4, 2016

Feast of Santa Barbara

Evviva Santa Barbara!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 4th is the Feast Day of Santa Barbara of Nicomedia, virgin and martyr. Widely venerated across southern Italy she is the principal patroness of Sommatino (CL), Paternò (CT), Gravà (CT), Tremestieri Etneo (CT), Castellana Sicula (PA), Villaggio Mosè (AG), Malò (ME), Francavilla di Sicilia (ME), Davoli (CZ), Amaroni (CZ), Salento (SA), and Corleto Monforte (SA), among others. 
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer in her honor. The accompanying photo of the saint was taken at the Museo del Duomo in Ravello.
Prayer to Saint Barbara
O God, Who didst adorn Thy holy virgin and martyr Barbara with extraordinary fortitude in the confession of the Faith, and didst console her in the most atrocious torments; grant us through her intercession perseverance in the fulfilment of Thy law and the grace of being fortified before our end with the holy sacraments, and of a happy death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

A Neapolitan Christmas with Jenna Esposito at Lorenzo's at the Hilton Garden Inn

Jenna Esposito
Friday, December 9th @ 9:30 p.m. (dinner at 7:00)

at the Hilton Garden Inn
1100 South Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10314

Enjoy a fabulous four-course dinner with wine pairings, followed by a show full of Christmas songs, Italian songs, and even some Italian Christmas songs for only $89.95 per person (Premium seating is $104.95 per person). "A Neapolitan Christmas" at the Zagat rated Lorenzo's is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family!

$89.95 - includes four-course dinner with wine pairings, plus the show! Premium seating is $104.95.

Reservations: (718) 477-2400, ext. 5

December 3, 2016

Compra Sud — Learn Neapolitan with Anna Scognamiglio

Let's support those who keep our traditions and folkways alive 
Neapolitan Lessons — It’s never too late to learn Neapolitan. Professional language teacher Anna Scognamiglio offers students of all ages custom 1-on-1 coaching over live video chat. Book your sessions at Savvy now!
Visit our Compra Sud Directory for complete listing 
* Our recommendations will be unsolicited, and only from our personal experience. No second hand suggestions will be made.

Presepio Della Solidarietà at the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere in Staten Island

Presepio Della Solidarietà
The Solidarity Crèche was a gift by the Naples (Italy) Chamber of Commerce to the NYC Fire Dept. post the 9/11 tragic terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It was custom made to honor the victims and brave Firefighters, Police and EMS workers that lost their lives. It is on loan to Casa Belvedere, courtesy of the International Columbia Association of the FDNY. The artisans' meticulous attention to detail and its spectacular beauty and warmth is of museum quality.

It is an exhibit not to be missed!

It will be on display from Dec. 12th through Jan. 7th

To Sign Up or For More Information on the above, please call 718-273-7660.

The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere
79 Howard Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301
T. 718-273-7660 F. 718-273-0020

Festa di Santa Lucia at Eolo NYC

Photo courtesy of Experience Sicily
Sunday, December 11th at 3 pm

Eolo Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen
190 7th Avenue
(between 21st and 22nd Streets)
New York, NY 10011

Join Eolo Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen in New York City to celebrate the feast of Santa Lucia. The afternoon includes a short concert of Sicilian folk songs and roots music presented by Michela Musolino and her band Rosa Tatuata.

Call Eolo Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen today at 646-225-6606 to secure your reservation.

$75/person includes unlimited food, wine, live music, as well as taxes, and gratuity.

For more info visit Celebrate the Feast of Santa Lucia in NYC on Facebook

December 2, 2016

Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George to Participate in the Missa Cantata for the Feast of Santa Lucia at Most Precious Blood Church

Also see: Missa Cantata for the Feast of Santa Lucia at Most Precious Blood Church in NYC

Rosa Tatuata to Perform at Giulietta’s Cantina Club

Tuesday, December 6th @ 7:30pm–10:30pm

Giulietta’s Cantina Club
13 Carmine Street
Greenwich Village, NYC 10014

No Cover

For more info visit

Also see:
Celebrating Spring at the Second Annual La Primavera Vinni Concert with Rosa Tatuata and LassatilAbballari

Presepio Napoletano at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center

Westchester Italian Cultural Center
One Generoso Pope Place
Tuckahoe, New York 10707

Presepio Napoletano on display now through Saturday, January 14, 2017. 
Presepio Napoletano represents our rich cultural and spiritual traditions. It portrays a bustling village located at the base of Mount Vesuvius. The landscape is handcrafted in wood, cork and papier-mâché, while the figures, many standing over a foot tall, are made of terra cotta, hemp and wire.  

Exhibit Hours: Monday - Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm. Please refer to our calendar of events for up-to-date evening hours. Evening hours are usually available whenever the Center is open for programs or events.

For more information or to schedule a guided tour or group visit please call 914-771-8700.

Suggested donation: $10

The Mustard Gas Disaster at Bari Harbor

By Lucian
World War II is without a doubt one of the most devastating events to affect humankind since the last ice age. The war and the conditions it caused killed close to 3% of the planet’s human population, mostly European, and finally ended with the use of atomic weapons against two Japanese cities. In most wars there are events that participating governments would rather people forget. One of these events occurred on December 2nd, 1943, when a German air raid destroyed an American ship containing mustard gas in Bari Harbor.
Approximately 50 Allied ships were present in Bari Harbor that evening, waiting to have their cargos unloaded to support the final Allied offensive in Italy. Within 20 minutes a surprise air raid by the German Luftwaffe destroyed 17 of those ships, the worst attack on Allied shipping since the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. So similar was the destruction that the event became known as Little Pearl Harbor. A U.S. Liberty ship loaded with mustard gas bombs was hit, releasing the poison gas into the harbor and surrounding city. Unfortunately mustard gas is not a clean weapon, distasteful as it might be to use the term “clean” in reference to a weapon of mass killing, chemicals like mustard gas could never be put in that category because even brief exposure can lead to horrible and crippling symptoms that can appear years after initial contact. If the gas doesn’t kill outright it can destroy the body over time or cause a lifetime of suffering. Lasting effects of exposure are extreme sensitivity to light, blindness, impotence, painful sores and blisters that do not heal properly, respiratory, gastric and bowel problems, cancer and birth defects. Over one thousand Allied servicemen were killed at Bari harbor as well as over a thousand Italian civilians. Six years after the war teams of medical personnel were sent to Bari to investigate why the population of the city was experiencing sudden deaths. There is no way to be certain exactly how may Italians or Allied servicemen died or suffered because of the delayed effects of the poison. Continue reading

December 1, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of San Giacomo della Marca at Ribalta

Showing off our Due Sicilie Pride
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
My confratelli and I broke bread at Ribalta, one of NYC’s best Neapolitan pizzeria restaurants, Monday afternoon for a celebratory meal in honor of the Feast of San Giacomo della Marca (St. James of the Marches), one of Naples’ numerous co-patrons. 
Not that our appetites needed stimulation, but before being seated we kicked off our meal with the customary aperitivo ritual by the bar. I don’t usually imbibe hard alcohol for lunch, but the chill in the air put me in the mood for a cocktail. Thanks to a former sweetheart from the American south, I acquired a taste for Kentucky bourbon, so I nursed a double Maker's Mark® neat.
Warmed up, we were seated just in time for the NapoliSassuolo match. As it happens, Ribalta is also the home of Napoli Club NYC so we had the opportunity to watch the game on their large projection screen while enjoying a variety of classic Neapolitan specialties, including Pizza Margherita, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina and Paccheri alla Genovese
Thanks to the cheerful company and delicious food, the disappointing 1-1 draw didn’t dampen our spirits and the merriment continued well into the evening. 
A hospitable proprietor and generous host, Rosario treated our jovial party to an array of desserts and espresso, perfectly capping off our celebration. As always, it was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture with such dear friends. Forza Napoli Sempre! Evviva San Giacomo!
Paccheri alla Genovese
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Also see:
Celebrating the Feast of San Martino di Tours
Celebrating the Feast of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Celebrating the Feasts of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Madonna di Ripalta in NYC

Christmas Amore with the Sicilian Tenors at the Chesapeake Theater

Friday, December 9th @ 7:30pm

Chesapeake Theater
Harford County Community College
401 Thomas Run Road
Bel Air, MD, 21015

For tickets call 443-412-2000

Three marvelous tenor voices combine for a unique interpretation of the world’s best music. Accompanied by a grand piano and presented with light-hearted fun, The Sicilian Tenors take the audience on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway, Italy, and beyond in a concert event for all ages and musical tastes.

For more information visit


A Poem by Michele Sovente 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Reprinted from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.275.


A tail fallen among
December leaves
when the sky draws
crooked roads leading nowhere.
What isn't said
is taken away by a truck
scrambling up stony paths.
Water swirling
in the cesspits, with so many cores
and tires fallen in, no one
knows the face of the water.
The leaves in December become
snakes and lions.

(Translated by Luigi Bonaffini)

New Books (December 2016)

Some new titles that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at

The Clement Bible at the Medieval Courts of Naples and Avignon: A Story of Papal Power, Royal Prestige, and Patronage by Cathleen A. Fleck

Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: November 2, 2016
Paperback: $54.95
Language: English
Pages: 370

Read description

Opera, Theatrical Culture and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples by Anthony R. DelDonna

Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: November 2, 2016
Paperback: $54.95
Language: English
Pages: 340

Read description

Music in Seventeenth-Century Naples: Francesco Provenzale (1624–1704) by Dinko Fabris

Publisher: Routledge
Publication Date: November 2, 2016
Paperback: $54.95
Language: English
Pages: 336

Read description

Click here to see more books

November 30, 2016

Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Saint Andrew pray for us
November 30th is the Feast Day of Saint Andrew the Apostle, patron of fishermen and protector of Amalfi. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Andrew. The accompanying photo of the Saint was taken at the memorial mass for the deceased members of the Saint Andrew Society at Saint Michael's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. At the turn of the 20th century, large numbers of immigrants from Amalfi settled in New Haven, so its not surprising the veneration of the Saint is strong there. Viva Sant'Andrea!  
Prayer to Saint Andrew
O glorious Saint Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, Saint John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, Saint Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen.

November 29, 2016

An Afternoon of Sicilian and Southern Italian Christmas Songs with Rosa Tatuata

Saturday, December 17th @ 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Whitestone Branch Queens Public Library
151-10 14th Road
Whitestone, NY 11357

Join Rosa Tatuata for an afternoon concert celebration of Christmas songs from Sicily and Southern Italy. Enjoy the festive music and folk instruments that have been a Christmas tradition for centuries and are still a vibrant and beloved part of modern day Christmas celebrations. Come meet our zampognaro: the Southern Italian bagpiper whose presence is identified with Christmas music throughout Southern Italy.

Also see:
Celebrating Spring at the Second Annual La Primavera Vinni Concert with Rosa Tatuata and LassatilAbballari

November 28, 2016

Feast of San Giacomo della Marca

Viva San Giacomo!
Photo Courtesy of Anthony Scillia
November 28th is the Feast Day of San Giacomo della Marca (St. James of the Marches), missionary and miracle worker. Counted among the many co-patrons of Naples, the austere friar preached tirelessly against greed and usury. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to St. James of the Marches. The accompanying photo was taken at St. James of the Marches R.C. Church in Totowa, New Jersey.
Prayer to St. James of the Marches
O God, you have given to the Church in St. James of the Marches a tireless missionary of your word, totally dedicated to the salvation of souls and the conversion of sinners. May his intercession help us to atone for our sins and to walk swiftly on the path of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God.

November 27, 2016

Photo of the Week: Medieval Fresco in the Duomo di Ravello

Traces of medieval frescoes adorn the transept of the Duomo di Ravello, Salerno
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

Annual Neapolitan Baroque Crèche and Angel Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Nov. 27, 2016—Jan. 6, 2017 (lighting daily at 4:30pm)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York

The Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a long-established yuletide tradition in New York. The brightly lit, twenty-foot blue spruce—with a collection of eighteenth-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs and groups of realistic crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene at its base—once again delight holiday visitors in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall. Set in front of the eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid, with recorded Christmas music in the background, the installation reflects the spirit of the holiday season. The exhibit of the crèche is made possible by gifts to The Christmas Tree Fund and the Loretta Hines Howard Fund.

Also see:
A Look at the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
A Look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
Neapolitan Glory: Baroque Presepio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

November 26, 2016

Christmas Amore with the Sicilian Tenors at the Investors Bank Performing Arts Center

Saturday, December 3rd @ 7:30pm

Investors Bank Performing Arts Center
519 Hurffville Crosskeys Road
Sewell, NJ 08080

Three marvelous tenor voices combine for a unique interpretation of the world’s best music. Accompanied by a grand piano and presented with light-hearted fun, The Sicilian Tenors take the audience on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway, Italy, and beyond in a concert event for all ages and musical tastes.

For more information visit