April 30, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Feast of SS. Crocifisso Di Ciminna, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Celebrating the Feast of Saint George with the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George

Members of the U.S. Delegation of the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George gather at Holy Innocents Church for their patronal feast day 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last Thursday, April 23rd, was the Feast of Saint George, and I had the great pleasure of attending a Tridentine Mass at historic Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan to celebrate it. Also known as Latin Mass or Old Mass, the ritual is so beautiful and moving that it simply must be experienced. Invited by the U.S. Delegation of the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George, I can think of no better way to celebrate the Saint’s Feast than to be surrounded by the Knights and Dames of his Order as we worshipped.

Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form was sung with celebrant and homilist Cav. Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Ambrosio. During his homily, Monsignor Ambrosio spoke at length about the Order and Christian chivalry. The service was enriched by a brilliant performance of Saverio Mercadante's (1795-1870) celebrated Mass for Three Voices by the church choir and organist. My experience was further elevated with the opportunity to venerate a first-class relic of Saint George.

The ceremony concluded with a thunderous rendition of Inno al Re, the national anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, composed by Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816) and a few kind words from His Excellency Cavaliere John M. Viola, U.S. Delegate of the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George, before ending with the Prayer of the Order.

After Mass, guests joined the Knights for dinner and drinks at nearby Arno Ristorante. We enjoyed a sumptuous four-course meal filled with interesting conversation. It felt good to mingle with like-minded people and make new friends.

I want to thank Delegate John M. Viola and all the members of the Order for their gracious hospitality. It was an honor to stand among you during the Feast of Saint George. Evviva San Giorgio!
A look inside historic Holy Innocents Church
The Crucifixion by Constantino Brumidi on the East Wall
The Holy Innocent's church choir performed a beautiful rendition of Saverio Mercadante's Mass for Three Voices
Very Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Ambrosio, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey spoke at length about the Order and Christian chivalry
The faithful prepare to receive Holy Communion while kneeling at the altar rail
Members of the Order venerate the first-class relic of Saint George
His Excellency Cavaliere John M. Viola, Delegate of the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George, addresses the audience
(Above and below) Departing Holy Innocents Church
(L-R) Hon. Cav. Pasquale Menna, Esq. and His Excellency Cav. John M. Viola, Delegate of the United States Delegation
The first-class relic of Saint George
A toast and a prayer before dinner
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April 28, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Feast of Maria SS. Della Misericordia in Brooklyn, New York

Evviva Maria!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Hundreds of devotees gathered at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sunday afternoon (April 26th) to celebrate the annual Feast of Maria SS. della Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy), patroness of Fontanarosa in Provincia di Avellino. Warmly welcomed, we celebrated Mass in English and Italian with Father Michael Zunno. The crowning moment (pun intended) came with the coronation of the Madonna and Child with the triple diadem, recalling the legend of the discovery of the sacred image of the Blessed Mother in a well. Three times the effigy was brought to the church, and three times it miraculously returned to the well until finally the townspeople decided to build a sanctuary at the location.

After Mass, Our Lady was brought out to the expectant crowd with much fanfare by Anthony’s Italian American Marching Band. The statue was placed on a float and accompanied by a group of adorable children dressed as Papal Guards, Angels and (in the case of one lucky young lady) the Madonna. Blessed with terrific weather, the procession sauntered through the neighborhood, stopping on occasion so parishioners could offer donations.
A couple of hours later, we returned to OLMC for the benediction and the statue was placed back in its place of honor in the church’s impressive “Hall of Saints.” The celebration continued next door in the school gymnasium, where we were treated to a splendid repast replete with all our favorite southern Italian delicacies. In addition to the food, partygoers enjoyed plenty of music, dancing and good company. The evening ended with a raffle drawing full of wonderful prizes.
I want to thank President Joe DiTalia and all the members of the Società di Maria SS. della Misericordia for their hard work and dedication. With the many challenges facing our community, it is no easy task maintaining our beloved cultural and religious traditions. They did a fantastic job and deserve our thanks and praise. I especially want to thank Buffy, Franca and Rosa for their warmth and hospitality. They went above and beyond to make me feel welcome. Needless to say, I always have a good time at these events, but this group is up there with the best of them. I look forward to celebrating with them again next year. Evviva Maria!
Children offer roses to Our Lady 
Young ladies present the crowns for the coronation
President Joe DiTalia crowns the Madonna and Child 
Adorable Ivana and Alexander with proud mama, Franca Zollo-Soric
The society's pride and joy 
Hark! Who goes there?
The Swiss Guard have nothing on these diligent little soldiers 
Leaving Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church 
The statue is carried to the float 
The young ones ride on the float with the statue
Young ladies carry the society banner
Members rally around the standard
The color guard led the way
The procession passes Mount Carmel Triangle, a memorial for the original location of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
Members take turns carrying the standard
Anthony's Italian American Marching Band
Young ladies collect donations and hand out prayer cards 
The procession makes its way through the neighborhood 
The parade returns to the church 
The festivities continued next door in the gymnasium
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April 27, 2015

Congratulations Lorenzo On Your First Holy Communion

April 25, 2015
Congratulations Lorenzo on your first Holy Communion. May God's love and blessings be with you always.

Photo of the Week: Fontana del Carciofo

Fontana del Carciofo (Artichoke Fountain), Napoli. Public fountain in the Piazza Trieste e Trento (formally Piazza San Ferdinando), inaugurated on April 29, 1956. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

April 25, 2015

Feast of San Marco Evangelista

Viva San Marco!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 25th is the Feast Day of San Marco Evangelista (St. Mark the evangelist), patron saint of notaries. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal protector of San Marco Evangelista (CE), San Marco Argentano (CS), Futani (SA), San Marco in Lamis (FG), Rionero in Vulture (PZ), and Pacentro (AQ), among others. In commemoration, I'm posting a prayer in honor of Saint Mark. The accompanying photo of San Marco was taken at the Basilica Santa Trofimena in Minori. 

Prayer to Saint Mark

O Glorious St. Mark, through the grace of God our Father, you became a great Evangelist, preaching the Good News of Christ. May you help us to know Him well so that we may faithfully live our lives as followers of Christ. Amen.

Feast of the Madonna delle Armi

Viva Maria!
Photo courtesy of Olivia Cerrone
By Giovanni di Napoli
April 25th is the Feast of the Madonna delle Armi, or Our Lady of the Cave.(1) She is the patroness of Cerchiara di Calabria, an ancient town in the province of Cosenza, in northeastern Calabria. The accompanying photos (courtesy of Olivia Cerrone) were taken at the Santuario Santa Maria dell Armi on the slopes of Mount Sellaro above Cerchiara. Built in the fifteenth century over the ruins of a Byzantine monastery, the sanctuary houses a sacred stone depicting the Blessed Mother and Child.
According to legend, in 1450 a group of hunters from nearby Rossano were tracking a stag through the oak woods of Mount Sellaro. As they closed in on their prey the animal ascended the rocky ridge and squeezed into a small cave in the side of the mountain. The huntsmen followed the deer into the crevice, but to their surprise the animal was nowhere to be found; instead they discovered two wooden tablets depicting the Holy Evangelists. Excited about their discovery the hunters decided to take the icons back to Rossano. Continue reading

Feast of the Madonna Incoronata

Viva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
The last Saturday of April is the Feast of the Madonna Incoronata (Our Lady Crowned), an ancient tradition dating back to the beginning of the second millennium A.D.  To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting Praise to the Queen of Heaven (Salvi Rigina), a traditional Marian prayer from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.(1) The accompanying photo was taken at St Lucy's Church, National Shrine of Saint Gerard in Newark, New Jersey.  
According to legend, the Count of Ariano got lost while hunting in the forest near the River Cervaro in Foggia, Puglia. He took refuge in a nearby cottage when the woods turned unusually dark. At dawn the Count noticed a bright light shining through the trees. Drawn to the mysterious radiance, a vision of the Madonna appeared before him. Wearing a magnificent crown and levitating above a large oak tree the Blessed Mother revealed a statue of the Black Madonna perched in the branches. Awestricken, the Count promised to build a chapel to house her miraculous icon.
Soon after, a shepherd named Strazzacappa, who was grazing his oxen close by, was also drawn to the light. Immediately recognizing the vision as the Blessed Mother, the humble herdsman set up a makeshift votive lamp with his caldarella beneath the tree in her honor. It is said that the oil was not consumed by the flame.
The Count fulfilled his vow and news of the miracle spread far and wide. The shrine quickly became a popular destination for devotees and those making the pilgrimage to the nearby Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael at Monte Sant'Angelo in the Gargano peninsula. Today, after several renovations, the Basilica Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata is a major religious center visited by thousands annually. The Black Madonna and a branch from the oak are still on display.
Praise to the Queen of Heaven
Hail to you Mary, Mother of Mercy
Life, sweetness, and spring of joy
In you we trust when in trouble or pain
To you we come when we are in tears
In affliction your comfort we obtain.

Hear our pleas, our sweet defender
Virgin Mother with all sorrow laden
To our God you prayers direct
Because our actions have no effect
The door of paradise open to all
When death for comes to call. Amen.



(1) Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas 2009, p.139

April 23, 2015

Feast of San Giorgio

Viva San Giorgio!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 23rd is the Feast Day of San Giorgio di Lydda (St. George of Lydda), patron saint of valor, chivalry and soldiers. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal protector of Reggio Calabria (RC), Modica (RG), Ragusa (RG), Prizzi (PA) and Barano d'Ischia (NA), among others. In commemoration of the great warrior saint I'm posting a Prayer to Saint George. The accompanying photo was taken at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and Saint Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Invocation of Saint George
Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end. Amen

April 22, 2015

April 21, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Feast of the Madonna Della Fontana and St. Michael the Archangel, Newark, New Jersey

For more info visit Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Newark

Titan of the South: Francesco de Mura

Two door panels with
Faith, Hope and putti 
attributed to Francesco de Mura,
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
In recent years I've made it a personal goal to pay homage to some of my favorite Southern Italian artists on their birthdays by viewing their works in person. Somehow, this tradition makes me feel connected to the artists; their greatness is a source of inspiration and pride. It's a simple gesture on my part and I find it to be a very rewarding.
Luckily for me I have easy access to a few of their works, thanks to the proximity of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unfortunately, due to the museum's vast collection and limited space (which is mind boggling considering the massive size of the place), I was unable to view Francesco De Mura's preparatory sketch for The Assumption of the Virgin because it was out of circulation. A very helpful gentleman at the information desk told me that the museum rotates their collection, but sometimes it takes as long as three years before some works are put back on public display. He did, however, give me a phone number to request a special viewing of the drawings and prints in storage, but they need at least two weeks advanced notice.
Needless to say, it's impossible to stay disappointed at the MET for very long. The institution is home to one of the world's greatest art collections and I was not about to waste an opportunity to take some of it in. I made my way to the European Painting galleries on the second floor and leisurely wondered through its hallowed halls. Gazing in awe, I found myself surrounded by the esteemed works of some of Europe's most celebrated artists: Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt van Rijn, El Greco, Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, Jusepe de Ribera, et alContinue reading