June 30, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children's Giglio Lift in Franklin Square, Long Island

San Paolino's children carry forward our traditions
Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
Our friend Bobby Maida was kind enough to share with us his pictures of the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children’s Gilio lift (Friday, June 26th). We love all of our feasts and cultural events, but there is always something extra special when they are focused on our youth. To see the enthusiasm of these kids while they actively participate in our traditions lifts my spirits and makes me very proud. 
For more of Bobby’s wonderful pictures visit www.bobseventphotos.shutterfly.com
The lifters show their enthusiasm
These eager young ladies are ready to lift
Dancing the giglio
(Above and below) Beautiful families on a beautiful day
(Above and below) Proud young Capos
The Sons of San Paolino di Nola did a great job
(Above and below) The celebration carried on into the night
Our light in the darkness
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

Also see:
A Look at the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children's Giglio Lift, Franklin Square, Long Island

Announcing the 2015 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Montclair, New Jersey


June 29, 2015

Solemnity of San Pietro and San Paolo

Viva San Pietro e San Paolo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 29th is the Feast Day of San Pietro and San Paolo (Saints Peter and Paul), Apostles and Martyrs. Widely venerated across southern Italy, the saints are the principal patrons of Galatina (LE), Agropoli (SA), Miglionico (MT), Petronà (RC), and Lamezia Terme (CZ), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul. The accompanying photo of Saints Peter and Paul by Jusepe de Ribera (Játiva 1591-1652 Naples) was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul

O holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, I choose you this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates; thee, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the Rock, upon which Almighty God hath built His Church; thee, Saint Paul, because thou wast fore-chosen by God as the Vessel of election and the Preacher of truth in the whole world. 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, attention 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 able to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and may be made worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for endless ages, to enjoy His presence and love Him forever. Amen. 

June 26, 2015

Around the Web (June 2015)

Items of interest from around the web
Civita at Made in South Italy Today
Skanderbeg mural, Civita (Photo courtesy of Made in South Italy Today)
Situated on the eastern slopes of the Pollino, Civita is a hill town and comune in the Province of Cosenza.
Castrum Sancti Salvatoris, ancient city of Cossa, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1456 and refounded under the name of Civita in 1471 by Albanian refugees. Continue reading
Cappellacci die Briganti, or "brigands hats" (Photo courtesy of Feast on History)
There are several scholarly studies on brigandage including research that looks at the link between brigandage and the American Civil War, but the most romantic tales are found in folk music and in food. Lest you think this corner of history is too esoteric, meet writer, historian and restaurant owner Francis Cratil and Chef Joe Cicala.
Cratil's (originally Cretarola) roots are in the Abruzzo and after several extended stays in the region, he wanted to open a restaurant back home in Philadelphia that celebrated Southern Italy's cooking. In 2007, Cratil and his wife Cathy Lee opened Le Virtù. Once Chef Joe Cicala's reputation began to soar, they started working on a second restaurant where Cicala could also be an owner. Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Norristown, Pennsylvania


June 25, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Festa di San Pio da Pietrelcina in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Viva San Pio!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Despite the threat of bad weather, hundreds of parishioners packed into Saint Dominic’s Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn Saturday (June 20th) to celebrate the Festa di San Pio da Pietrelcina. In fact, so many people showed up that the room divider needed to be opened and extra seats set up in the gymnasium to accommodate the overflow. Luckily, the kind ladies of the church choir invited me to sit with them, giving me the best seat in the house to enjoy the beautiful music of soprano Briana Weiner and organists Mary Carmosino.
After Mass we fêted Padre Pio with a procession through the neighborhood. Accompanied by Michael Aromando and the Metropolitan Festival Band, devotees sang a prayed for nearly two hours undeterred by the drizzle and mist. Before returning to church, we briefly stopped outside the Caduti Superga Mola Soccer Club on 20th Avenue for the benediction and a few more songs.
Back at St. Dominic’s, the statue was returned with great fanfare to its place of honor in the church vestibule. Before leaving, I purchased a few more prayer cards for my loved ones and lit a few candles for my ancestors.
I want to thank President Vito Liotine, Giovanni Verna, Lucrezia Nardulli Marangelli, and all the members of Caduti Superga for their hard work and dedication. It was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture with you. Viva San Pio!
Our friends at St. Dominic's had a large selection of religious gift items 
Padre Pio is brought out to the expectant crowd
Devotees pin money on to the cape
It started to drizzle just as we got started
The procession wends its way through the mist
Lucrezia Nardulli Marangelli, President Vito Liotine and Giovanni Verna
Michael Aromando and the Metropolitan Festival Band
The procession saunters down 20th Avenue
We briefly stopped at the Cadutti Superga Soccer Club for the benediction
Back at the church, the ladies sang one last hymn for Padre Pio
Votive candles are lit inside the church vestibule
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

Announcing the 80th Annual Saint Mary of Carmen Festival, Nonantum, Massachusetts


June 24, 2015

Feast of San Giovanni Battista

Viva San Giovanni!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 24th is the Feast of San Giovanni Battista, or Saint John's Day. In Southern Italy, Saint John's Eve (June 23rd) is traditionally celebrated with bonfires known as Saint John's Fire. The bonfires were part of an ancient purification ritual connected with the June solstice. Sometimes called "Summer Christmas," the Feast is a celebration of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus Christ. As my name day, the Feast has an additional special significance to me. Buon onomastico to my fellow Duesiciliani named Giovanni! To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint John the Baptist. The accompanying photo of the Battesimo di Cristo by Gerolamo Starace-Franchis (Napoli, notizie dal 1754 al 1783) was taken during my 2010 visit to the Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo in Napoli.

Prayer to Saint John the Baptist

O God, You raised up Saint John the Baptist to prepare a perfect person for Christ. We call upon Saint John's intercession to properly prepare us with a true sense of repentance to receive Your grace and salvation. Make us faithful to truth and justice, as You did Your servant, John the Baptist, herald of Your Son's birth and death. Lord, may You increase Your life within us. Amen.

Announcing Boston's 101st Annual Feast in Honor of Saint Agrippina Di Mineo


June 23, 2015

Feast of Santa Agrippina di Mineo

Evviva Santa Agrippina!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 23rd is the Feast Day of Santa Agrippina di Mineo, virgin and martyr. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Agrippina.* The accompanying photo was taken at an outdoor shrine on Battery Street in Boston's North End. Boston is home to many descendants of Mineo, Sicily, and they pay tribute to their patroness each August with a beautiful Feast in her honor.
Prayer to St. Agrippina
O glorious virgin and Martyr Agrippina your cruel executioner bound you to prepare you for martyrdom. Pray for us that our hearts will also be bound always to God's holy love, Let us pray fervently. May devotion to Saint Agrippina Endure for ever. Amen.
Also see:
Celebrating a Hundred Years of Devotion to Santa Agrippina di Mineo in Boston, Mass. (Part 1)
Celebrating a Hundred Years of Devotion to Santa Agrippina di Mineo in Boston, Mass. (Part 2)

Announcing the 126th Annual Feast of San Rocco, New York City


June 22, 2015

Celebrating Faith, Family and Culture: An Interview With Domenic Varuzza

Lieutenant Domenic Varuzza (tan shirt) poses with pals Anthony Rainone, Tommy and Paul Lattenzio, and his father, Anthony at the 2013 feast
By Giovanni di Napoli
Today we are honored to interview Mr. Domenic Varuzza. I first met Dom years ago during the lifting of the giglio at the Feast of San Paolino di Nola in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I was immediately impressed by the young man’s character and his passion for his cultural traditions. Recognizing his leadership skills, the Board of Directors of the Feast promoted Dom to Lieutenant in 2013. He is also very active in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and other Italian American societies, including the San Cono Society and Brooklyn Giglio Boys Club. Dom has always been friendly and helpful, explaining to me the details of the events and taking me behind the scenes while the giglio was being built. Thanks to him I participated in my first lift, and it was an experience I will never forget.
In 2000, at the age of ten, Dom was a Kid's
Capo during the Children's Giglio celebration
How did you become involved in the feasts?
I guess it’s the cliché answer, but I was born into the feast like most involved. My father grew up in Williamsburg and went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, he's been a lifter since the early 1970s, and his passion for it carried over to me. For as long as I can remember, my life revolved around it, and nothing excited me more as a kid. I always wanted to be more involved and from the first time I stepped under the kids’ giglio, I didn't want to come out.  
Dom and his father lifting in the Bronx
We sincerely appreciate your efforts to carry on the traditions of our people. Can you tell us why you do it?
It really comes down to passion and culture, something that tends to get lost in the shuffle as generations pass. In my opinion, Williamsburg, Brooklyn is the last surviving Italian neighborhood left in New York City. We have Italians of all ages and generations still living here, raising families and running businesses, and to me that’s all because of the feast and our parish. Without the giglio, there’s no feast and without the feast, the doors of our church wouldn't be able to stay open. I personally feel responsible for keeping that tradition alive and to make sure we don't lose our Italian culture. I had an extremely close relationship with my nonno, and was raised in a traditional Italian speaking family, its something I don't want to lose, and even more important to be able to pass that down to my children and future generations.  
Through the years (2010-2012): Dom always carries the left rear of the giglio
What does it feel like to participate in the lifting of the giglio and how has your role as a Lieutenant changed this?
If you love the tradition like I do, there’s nothing like it. I can speak for many, from the minute you hear the first note from the Giglio Band, your heart starts racing and goose bumps pop up on your arms. Especially when you get to share it with friends and family under there with you, you just feel a part of something special. Being a lieutenant changes a lot because you have much more responsibility, and it could be stressful. You're responsible for organizing the men before the feast; a lieutenant is in charge of approximately 40 men. The safety of the lifters is in your hands as well as the thousands in the crowd. A misconception is that it’s the capos that turn the giglio or boat, but in reality it’s the four lieutenants working together on turns, guiding the giglio between stands and crowds of people. There’s a lot of subtle things a good lieutenant should know, such as which way to pivot the giglio, what parts of the street are more narrow, how to situate your strongest lifters, and make sure you tell your lifters before each lift what the plan is, so nobody gets hurt by anything unexpected.  
Dom and his father in Nola, Province of Naples, 2005
You also lifted the giglio in Nola; can you tell us how that came about and what was it like?
Nothing is like Nola, and I can’t explain that enough. The passion, culture, history and pure joy that consumes the town of Nola in June is unrivaled by anything. I always say if you go to Nola, and aren't overcome by the spectacle and beauty of the feast and gigli, you don't belong near a giglio. It’s like being a baseball player and you think Fenway or Wrigley are just another ballpark. Lifting in Nola was the greatest experience of my life, it’s like a well-oiled machine; every guy knows what he's doing, everybody lifts the correct way, to the Nolani it is their world. They embraced me and took it as an honor that I wanted to be a part of their festa. Several members of the giglio community in America have developed relationships with the giglio boys in Nola and more specifically the paranza Fantastic Team; they welcome us with open arms each year. Its something I wish I could do every year, and have been fortunate enough to do twice.  
The giglio celebration is all about faith, family and community
What can we expect from this year’s Feast? 
Well this year’s feast is the 128th feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and 112th year lifting the giglio in Brooklyn. A lot of people in the neighborhood are excited about this years feast because we have a beloved neighborhood and parish man as our number 1 capo, Paul "Bo" Pennolino. His son Anthony is actually a lieutenant as well, so it is another example of family and feast traditions being passed on. The Turk of this years feast also has some significance, Joey Aragona is our Turk, and is one of the few members of our feast and neighborhood whose family descends directly from Nola. The thing I love about our feast is that it has become a tourist attraction as well, Williamsburg has become a weekend destination for many across NYC, and the more people that get to experience and witness our great tradition, the better it is.  
Lt. Dom in action: Directing the paranza (lifters) during the 2014 feast 
What was the motivation behind the Columbus Day Giglio with the Brooklyn Giglio Boys Club?
The Columbus Day Giglio started in 2012 with a group of neighborhood teenagers wanting to build a small giglio for fun to dance in the street. For most in Williamsburg, the feast isn't just a July thing, we eat, breathe and live the feast 365 days a year. "O Giglio e Paradiso" which is the Brooklyn giglio song, is the lifeblood and anthem of our neighborhood. When the guys from the Giglio Boys social club heard about it, they offered help and said to do it on Columbus Day during their party honoring our day of Italian heritage. The Giglio Boys are a social club that has been around for 20 years. It was started by the Nunziata brothers, whose passion and love for the giglio tradition and neighborhood has greatly contributed to expanding what we do in Williamsburg. A couple hundred people turned out for the first giglio in support of our neighborhood youth.  Since then, the giglio and crowd have grown in size, and in 2014 we had 3 pieces of the face from the Beccaio Fantastic Team giglio from Nola, it was about 40 feet tall with the San Paolino on top. It has been a great experience because it involves the youth of Williamsburg, as it teaches them how to build and dance the giglio the right way, which is something they're going to have to learn and want to be a part of if we hope to carry the traditions that were passed down to us.  
Dom (far right) with friends during the 2012 giglio in the Bronx
Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. Any last thoughts?
Come to Giglio Sunday on July 12th, I promise there is no Italian Feast like it in America. And if you don't prefer the hot sun, we lift the giglio at night on Wednesday July 15th. If anybody wants to be involved or learn more about our feast and the giglio tradition, just find us on Facebook @olmcfeast or olmcfeast.com. There’s nothing we love more than sharing our tradition with those eager to discover more. Buona Festa a tutti!
Neighborhood banner congratulating Dom's promotion to Lieutenant

Feast of San Paolino di Nola

Viva San Paolino!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 22nd is the Feast Day of San Paolino (Saint Paulinus), Bishop and Patron of Nola. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to San Paolino. The accompanying photo was taken at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 
Prayer to San Paolino
O Lord, You made Saint Paulinus renowned for his love of poverty and concern for his people. May we who celebrate his witness to the Gospel imitate his example of love for others. We ask 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.

Photo of the Week: Marble fragment at the Abbey of Monte Cassino

Marble fragment with fanciful lion at the Abbey of Monte Cassino 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo