May 28, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Festa di San Cono, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

For more information the San Cono Society in Brooklyn, NY can be contacted on Facebook

May 27, 2013

A Look at NYC's 2013 Festa di Sant'Antonio da Padova

Viva Sant'Antonio!
Inside Most Precious Blood Church
Organized by the Society of Saint Anthony of Giovinazzo, Inc., the celebration will continue through Sunday, June 2nd. There will be a second procession on Saturday, June 1st at 7:00 PM.
Standard bearer leads the way
Exiting Most Precious Blood Church
The society's pride and joy
This year's Queen of the Festival, Michelle Fiorentino
Her first Feast!
The procession makes its way through the streets of Little Italy
This year's Grand Marshals
Adorable Franciscan with proud papa
The Queen and her court
Another look at the procession
Outdoor chapel on Mulberry Street
A look inside historic Most Precious Blood Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Most Precious Blood Church
109 Mulberry Street, NYC
(Between Broome St. and Spring St.) 

Proceeds to benefit Most Precious Blood Church, Saint Jude Hospital, Sandy Storm Relief, Old Bridge High School, St. Anthony Novena, American Diabetes, St. Anthony of Padova Church, St. Rocco Society, Public School #75, C.F.S. Children Malformation, Communion of St. Anthony and Society of Pozzallo

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

For more information visit the Society of Saint Anthony of Giovinazzo, Inc. on Facebook

Also see:

May 25, 2013

Remember Bitonto!

Charles of Bourbon, 
Palazzo Reale, Napoli 
(Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
By Giovanni di Napoli

May 25th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Bitonto (1734), the key engagement between the Spanish Bourbons and Austrian Hapsburgs over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1738).  The battle and its aftermath (the Treaty of Vienna) brought Austrian rule in Southern Italy to an end and won "the most beautiful crown in Italy" for Charles of Bourbon, the eldest child of King Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese.

Under the command of Captain General José Carrillo de Albornoz, the Count of Montemar, the Bourbon forces defeated the Austrians (who had ruled Naples since 1707 and Sicily from 1720) on the field of battle near Bitonto in Puglia. 

The Duke of Montemar, 
José Carrillo de Albornoz
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
For his part, Count José Carrillo de Albornoz was made a Duke. A towering obelisk was constructed in the town square in his honor and to commemorate the victory.

After 230 years of provincial servitude to Spain and Austria, Charles of Bourbon, "The great restorer of the kingdom," made the Regno an independent and sovereign state once again. The Bourbon dynasty ruled the Southern Kingdom for 126 years until 1860, when Victor Emanuel II of Savoy conquered and annexed it to the nascent Kingdom of Italy.

May 24, 2013

Who’s Happier than Me?

The Biography of Eduardo De Filippo

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
By Niccolò Graffio
"What can one be but frivolous about serious things? Without frivolity they are simply too tremendous." – G.K. Chesterton (as quoted in Gilbert Keith Chesterton by Maisie Ward; Sheed & Ward, 2005)
The process of centralizing the film industry in Italy, begun by the proponents of the Risorgimento almost from the time of that industry’s creation and expedited by the Fascists, virtually snuffed out the embryonic film companies that had sprung up in places like Naples and Sicily.  That and the advent of sound film (along with its vastly increased costs) insured that only films produced in the movie studios of Rome or Northern Italy would ever see the light of day.

The cultural hegemony of the Padanians succeeded in relegating the local cultures of Southern Italy into second, no, third class status!  This was due to the fact Northerners regarded the art, music, languages and cuisines of their newly acquired peons in the south as being inferior to even that of non-Italian Europeans.

What it could not succeed in doing, though, was extinguishing the inner spark that drove the creation of these unique expressions of ethnicity.  This was because that spark was due just as much to innate factors as it was to upbringing.  As has been commented on by a number of people including our adversaries like the early 20th century American nativist Madison Grant, our natural inclinations are to aspire to intellectual achievements, especially in the arts.  One would therefore expect to see Southern Italians achieve distinction in painting, sculpture, music, etc. and one certainly does. Continue reading

May 23, 2013

Chiara Ambrosio's 'Neapolitan Cult of the Dead' at Morbid Anatomy

Chiara Ambrosio at Morbid Anatomy
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Lucian

Recently we attended an event at Morbid Anatomy entitled The Neapolitan Cult of the Dead, an illustrated lecture by filmmaker/ animator Chiara Ambrosio with music accompaniment by Bird Radio.

In the past we have visited the topic in various articles, such as "Enigmatic Traditions" and "Parentalia," so we were eager to hear what the speaker had to say. Ms. Ambrosio was very interesting to talk to before the lecture even began. She was born in Southern Italy, but now lives in London. Passionate about her work in film, she explained that her ancestors were from Naples and Calabria and the lecture was part of her own cultural heritage.

After introducing herself the lecture began with the audience viewing photos with music. She did her best to recreate the tone and emotional atmosphere of Naples and the spiritual practices of its people and did well; but as she said, the best way to experience it is to actually go there. The images were both engaging and disturbing, not because of the tombs or the skulls of the dead underground, but because of the condition of the city of Naples in the land of the living. The images were real and held nothing back, it was beautiful and dirty, full of life but poor, a landscape of contradiction. However, even the ravages of time, poverty and brutal politics could not completely cover the majesty that Naples once was. The bones of the city’s past showed through as clearly as the polished bones of the dead underneath it.

Between the images she spoke about the city of Naples, the practices of its people and the spiritual aspects of the Cult of the Dead. Her narrative felt like poetry. She spoke of the seeming paradoxes in their spiritualism, a sense of the ancient, and their respect and reverence for their ancestors, who they believed were now in purgatory. By adopting the bones, caring for them and praying for their owner’s souls they hoped to help those souls reach Heaven, and in return the dead would help the living and their families. She also talked about Vesuvius. Living in the volcano’s shadow is living in the shadow of death, and yet the fertile soil brings life and livelihood. It gave us a lot to think about.

Afterward there was a question and answer period, and Chiara Ambrosio proved very knowledgeable not only about her chosen topic, but about the history and issues of Southern Italy in general. It was impressive. We spoke again after the questions were over. I was grateful for the opportunity to have met her, and I look forward to seeing her films. She is currently working on a documentary about the religious festivals of Verbicaro, Calabria and how they include both Pagan and Christian aspects.

May 22, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Feast of the Maddona del Sacro Monte, Clifton, New Jersey

Visit SOGNA—Societa Organizzata per Gioiesi in Nord America on Facebook

A look at the 2013 Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, Kansas City, Missouri

Viva Maria!
Photos courtesy of Robert Kearney
Our friend Robert from Kansas City was gracious enough to send us some wonderful pictures of this year's Feast of Our Lady of the Audience and we wanted to share them with you.
Our Lady of the Audience departing Holy Rosary Church
A canopy is raised above the statue,
which is then showered with rose petals
Devotees swab the statue with cotton balls and rose petals
After Mass parishioners celebrate with some sweets
A look inside beautiful Holy Rosary Church
For a YouTube video of this year's celebration click here

May 21, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Feast of Saint Anthony of Padova, NYC

Viva Sant'Antonio!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Sponsored by the Society of Saint Anthony of Giovinazzo

May 23rd – June 2nd

Most Precious Blood Church
109 Mulberry Street, NYC 10013
(Between Broome and Spring Streets) 

Opening Day May 23rd
Music every night

Saturday, May 25th — Procession of St. Anthony with the members (3:00 PM)

Saturday, June 1st — Procession of St. Anthony (7:00 PM)

Sunday, June 2nd — Mass at Most Precious Blood Church (11:00 AM)

Proceeds to benefit Most Precious Blood Church, Saint Jude Hospital, Sandy Storm Relief, Old Bridge High School, St. Anthony Novena, American Diabetes, St. Anthony of Padova Church, St. Rocco Society, Public School #75, C.F.S. Children Malformation, Communion of St. Anthony and Society of Pozzallo

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

For more information visit the Society of Saint Anthony of Giovinazzo, Inc. on facebook

Also see:

A Look at Middletown, Connecticut's 92nd Annual Saint Sebastian Feast

Primu Diu e Sammastianu!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

I made my way to Middletown, Connecticut this weekend for the 92nd Annual Saint Sebastian Feast. Invited by a friend, I jumped at the opportunity to finally partake in this wonderful tradition. 

Arriving early, we had the opportunity to explore Saint Sebastian Church and mingle with some locals before Mass. Beautifully decorated, the church was heavily influenced by the Baroque design of the Basilica San Sebastiano in Melilli, Sicily.

Curious about the origins of the Feast, I learned that in 1414 a galley arriving from the Adriatic was shipwrecked by a terrible storm at Magnisi, a peninsula in the Province of Siracusa. Miraculously, none of the passengers were harmed. This blessing was attributed to Saint Sebastian because his statue was part of ship's cargo and safely washed up on shore. News of the miracle spread and the Bishop of Siracusa lead a procession to the location to retrieve the statue. However, no matter how hard they tried the saint would not budge. Many wanted the prize, but only when the people of Melilli attempted the feat the statue allowed itself to be moved. With great pride they returned to their hometown with their beloved patron. 

Mass culminated with the I Nuri (barefooted devotees dressed in white with red sashes) entering the church fervently proclaiming their devotion to God and San Sebastiano. "First God, then St. Sebastian," they cried. The litter bearing the saint was covered with flowers and carried out of the church to the expectant crowd. 

With great revelry and fanfare the procession wended its way through the parish, greeted by the faithful along the way. Upon return, the Saint was brought back into the church where celebrants distributed the flowers for luck. Afterward, the festivities spilled out onto the church grounds where a fantastic festival was held. There was plenty of good music, delicious food, and fun rides and games. The rain didn't dampen any spirits.

Next year marks the 600th anniversary of the Feast and a contingent from Middletown is planning a trip to Sicily to participate in the historic celebration.

Viva San Sebastiano!

The procession leaves the church
The I Nuri make their way through Middletown
Another look at the I Nuri
Tradition is passed from father to son
This cutie was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day
The clergy welcome back the procession 
A close up of San Sebastiano
A look inside beautiful Saint Sebastian Church
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian on the nave ceiling
Donations are pinned to the statue
Stained glass window in the church foyer
A statuette of San Sebastiano
Monument to Catholic war veterans
You know you're in the right place when Tony Andriola of Anne Marie's Concessions is there. For over twenty years "Tony Torrone" has been selling his toothsome nougat and confections at Italian festivals all over the East Coast
There was no shortage of delicious Sicilian delicacies to choose from, but my favorite was the arancini
A traditional carrettu sicilianu (Sicilian cart) was on display
Detail of the carrettu showing a battle between the Normans and Saracens

May 19, 2013

AcquAria to Perform at the 34th Annual Sea Music Festival, Mystic, Connecticut

Photo courtesy of AcquAria
34th Annual Sea Music Festival
June 6th–9th, 2013

Mystic Seaport
The Museum of America and the Sea
75 Greenmanville Avenue
Mystic, Connecticut 06355
(860) 572-5315

The musical tradition of Sicily includes many songs that speak of the sea, sing its praises, or are sung by those whose work connects them to the water. Together, acclaimed musicians Michela Musolino and Vincenzo Castellana, pay tribute to Sicily's sea through their music. Musolino, a vocalist known for her performances of Sicilian Roots Music, and Castellana, a noted percussionist of the Sicilian drumming tradition, have created a work of song, percussion and recitations which illustrates the intimate connection of Sicily, its history and its culture to the sea which surrounds it.

For more information and tickets, visit

Also see:

May 18, 2013

Diogenes Need Have Looked No Farther

The Biography of Giovanni Falcone
P.M. Giovanni Falcone
By Niccolò Graffio
“The Mafia is a human phenomenon and as all human phenomena it has a beginning, an evolution and it will also have an end.” – Giovanni Falcone
"He [Diogenes of Sinope] used to call the demagogues the lackeys of the people and the crowns awarded to them the efflorescence of fame. He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, 'I am looking for a man.'" – Diogenes Laërtius: Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Book VI (translated by Robert Drew Hicks), Loeb Classical Library, 1925
The American fascination with criminals has always been something of a mystery to me. Criminals rob, rape and murder with impunity, yet somehow the worst of them all too often manage to garner the best press. This is not a recent phenomenon in American history. As far back as the 19th century, “dime novels” chronicled the exploits, real and imagined, of various unsavory types such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Cole Younger and the Dolan Gang. Rather than denounce the anti-social proclivities of these sordid characters, more often writers held them up as people to be admired, if not in fact to be emulated. Continue reading

May 17, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, Kansas City, Missouri

Viva Maria!
Photo courtesy of HRCC
Sunday, May 19th 
Mass 11:00 AM
Procession and shower of rose petals to follow

Come celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, patroness of Sambuca, Sicily. Refreshments will be served after Mass.

Holy Rosary Catholic Church
911 E. Missouri Avenue
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
For more info contact: 
(816) 842-5440

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

For a brief history of the Feast visit Holy Rosary Catholic Church