December 31, 2016

The Feast of San Silvestro I

My lucky skivvies
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 31st is the Feast of San Silvestro the First (St. Sylvester I), Pope and Confessor. By happenstance, the day coincides with New Year's Eve and has become entwined with the year-end celebration. Admittedly, most of the popular traditions affiliated with La Festa di San Silvestro have more to do with the secular new year than with the Saint's day. 
Typical New Year's Eve celebrations in southern Italy begin with dinner parties. What better way to ring in the New Year than with family and friends? Customarily lentils and pork sausages are served; it's said the food represents wealth and will bring luck and good fortune. Figs are also exchanged so the coming year will be sweet as well. Afterward, people gather around bonfires or get together in the streets and squares to socialize and party. At midnight they watch huge fireworks displays; the one in Naples is sheer pandemonium. (See YouTube video)
Of course, not all the rituals and folklore are related to food. In Naples, for example, some people still throw their old and broken household items out of their windows at midnight, taking the popular saying "Out with the old, in with the new" quite literally. This cleansing ritual symbolizes an optimistic fresh start.
The superstitious also believe smashing plates and glasses on the ground will frighten and chase away evil spirits. At the very least, it is a cathartic release.
Wearing red underwear is another popular custom. The explanations for this curious practice are manifold. For example, I've heard it said that red is a lucky color and it will bring prosperity to the wearer. It also symbolizes virility or fertility and is worn by those looking to have children or find romance. Whatever the true meaning is, I won't be taking any chances and will be wearing mine.
Viva San Silvestro! Buon Anno! Happy New Year!
Prayer to Saint Sylvester 
O Loving Father and Saint Sylvester be a tower of strength to Your children, grant us increase, protect us from all harm and present, with your powerful intercession, our prayers to the Almighty. Pray for us, O Holy Father Saint Sylvester that we may be made worthy of promises of Christ. Be present to Your servants, O Lord, and through the intercession of our Holy Father Saint Sylvester, bestow upon us the unceasing help of Your grace so that, by following his example, we may be defended by thy protection. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Feast of Santa Colomba di Sens

Evviva Santa Colomba!
December 31st is the Feast Day of Santa Colomba di Sens, Virgin and Martyr. According to tradition, her relic was translated from France to the Cattedrale di San Sabino in Bari, Apulia, in the eighteenth century by a group of Vincentians fleeing religious persecution. In Bari, Santa Colomba is invoked against fire, drought and other natural disasters. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Santa Colomba di Sens. The accompanying photo, courtesy of Patrick O’Boyle, was taken inside the crypt of the Bari Cathedral.
A Prayer to Santa Colomba di Sens
O Glorious Santa Colomba, you served God in humility and confidence on earth, now you enjoy His beatific vision in Heaven. Help me to strengthen my faith and protect me in conflict. Obtain for me the grace to live a holy life, so that one day I may join you in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen

Top 10 Posts of 2016

A few highlights from 2016
A look back at some of our favorite moments of 2016: (Top row) Celebrating the 127th Annual Feast of San Rocco di Potenza in NYC; impromptu protest in Washington Square Park in NYC; being invested with the Brown Scapula at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem; and celebrating Michaelmas at Most Precious Blood Church in NYC. (Bottom row) Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George; and attending The Black Cats NYC CD release party at Sidewalk Cafe in NYC.

Top Ten Posts:

01 Investiture and Mass in the Presence of the Royal Family of the Two Sicilies at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City
02 For Altar and Throne: Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
03 The Warrior Prelate: Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo
04 Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George Participate in the 90th Annual Feast of San Gennaro in NYC's Historic Little Italy
05 Remembering the Battle of Bitonto: Neobriganti Gather in Brooklyn, New York for the Eighth Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration
06 Keeping a Vow: Celebrating the Feast of St. Michael at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy
07 Hanging With Patrizio Buanne in New York City's Historic Little Italy

08 Viva ‘o Rre! His Royal Majesty King Francis I of the Two Sicilies
09 Sunday of the Scarves: The War Against Neapolitan Identity Continues
10 A Brief Sketch: Donatus Buongiorno

Honorable mention:
11  Celebrating the Mass of the Flags in Polignano a Mare, Apulia
12  Most Precious Blood Church: An Appreciation
13  The Black Cats NYC Set Sidewalk Ablaze With CD Release Party

Click here to see last year’s results

December 30, 2016

Praying for Good King Francis II

Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George sponsor Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Repose of the Soul of HM Francesco II di Borbone, Re delle Due Sicilie
Led by HE Cav. John M. Viola, Delegate for Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George in North America, Cavalieri, Chaplains and Altar Servers celebrate the annual Mass for the Repose of the Soul for HM King Francis II of the Two Sicilies Photos courtesy of Eric Lavin, New York Scugnizzo and Cav. Vincent Gangone 
By Cav. John Napoli
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make our Missa Cantata for the Repose of the Soul of HRM King Francesco II di Borbone on the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist a success (Dec. 27th). 
First and foremost I would like to thank Msgr. Donald Sakano, Pastor of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, for letting us have the Mass at Most Precious Blood Church (113 Baxter Street) in NYC’s historic Little Italy. I greatly appreciate the warmth and kindness of the congregation and parish staff, especially project manager Bill Russo, who continues to be a major supporter of our initiatives.
My sincerest thanks to Cav. Msgr. Joseph Ambrosio, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey, for being our celebrant and homilist. What a blessing to celebrate Mass with you.
Thank you to the devoted altar servers who answered the call. As always, our dear friends Damian, Lorenzo, Teddy, Manny, Brian and Mathew did a fantastic job.
Special thanks to Music director Art Manabat and the schola for another incredible performance. What a pleasant surprise to hear, after the recessional, Inno al Re, the national anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies composed by Giovanni Paisiello. 
Thank you to Tribeca Vini for generously donating the wine for the tasting after Mass in the rectory.
We could not have done it without the support from the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, the Comitati Due Sicilie USA and the Fondazione Francesco II di BorboneI cannot thank you enough.
I would be remiss not to mention Eric Lavin, Andrew Portelli, Andrew Giordano, Rosanna Minervini, Stephen LaRocca and Lucian. You have all been true friends and I appreciate everything you’ve done for us.
Last but not least, I want to thank my dutiful confratelli His Excellency U.S. Delegate Cav. John M. Viola, Vice Chancellor Cav. Patrick O’Boyle, Baron Dr. Robert LaRocca, Cav. Msgr. Chris Hynes, Cav. Thomas Crane, Cav. Anthony O’Boyle, Cav. Charles Sant’Elia and Cav. Vincent Gangone. It was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture together. 
God bless you all. Viva 'o Rre!
Mass was sung by celebrant and homilist Msgr. Joseph Ambrosio, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey, and Chaplain of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George
Cav. Charles Sant'Elia genuflects with the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
(Left) Baron Dr. Robert LaRocca. 
(Right) Cavalieri Vincent Gangone and Sant'Elia join the Baron
Cavalieri John Napoli, Baron LaRocca, HE John M. Viola and Sant'Elia
Mass program front and back cover
Thank you Bill Russo for sharing your photos with us
The procession makes its way to the sanctuary
Cav. Napoli had the immense privilege of carrying the Labarum
Msgr. Ambrosio gave a heartfelt sermon about Good King Francis II and the destruction of his Kingdom by Masonic and progressive forces of evil
The faithful receiving the Eucharist at the communion rail
Cavalieri Napoli, Patrick O'Boyle, Anthony O'Boyle, Sant'Elia and Gangone

Feast of La Sacra Famiglia

Today we celebrate the Feast of la Sacra Famiglia, or Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Normally celebrated on the last Sunday in December, the Feast is observed on December 30th whenever Christmas falls on a Sunday. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer for the Holy Family. The accompanying photo was taken inside the Our Lady of Lourdes and Madonna di Ripalta chapel at Most Precious Blood Church in Manhattan’s Little Italy.
Prayer for the Holy Family
O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. 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.

December 29, 2016

Feast of San Tommaso Becket

Gold pendant, Canterbury, ENG ca. 1174-83
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 29th is the Feast Day of San Tommaso Becket (St. Thomas Becket), Bishop and Martyr. Patron saint of secular clergy, he is the protector of Mottola, a town in the Province of Taranto, Puglia. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer in his honor. The accompanying photo of the Reliquary Pendant of Bishop Reginald of Bath for Queen Margaret of Sicily was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. According to the inscriptions on the obverse of the pendant, the reliquary once contained pieces of the blood-soaked vestment of the Saint. 
Prayer for St. Thomas Becket
O God, for the sake of whose Church the glorious Bishop Thomas fell by the sword of ungodly men: grant, we beseech Thee, that all who implore his aid, may obtain the good fruit of his petition. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Discovering the Blue Vase of Pompeii

The Blue Vase 
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Discovered at Pompeii on December 29, 1837, in the presence of King Ferdinand II, the Blue Vase is regarded by many to be the Naples National Archaeological Museum's most prized possession. Considering the institution's vast collection of antiquities from Pompeii, Herculcneum and Stabiae (not to mention the famed Farnese collection) that's quite a claim. 
The Blue Vase is said to have been found in the House of the Mosaic Columns during a Royal inspection. Some have suggested it was planted to impress the noble visitors. Apparently, it was not uncommon for excavators to inhume their finds and wait for an opportune time to unearth the treasure in order to keep their patrons excited and the funds coming in. Continue reading

December 28, 2016

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, a commemoration of the massacre of the children of Bethlehem by King Herod in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus. In remembrance, I'm posting a Prayer for the Holy Innocents. The accompanying photo of the Massacre of the Innocents (c.1640) by Pacecco de Rosa (Naples b. 1607—Naples d. 1756) was taken at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Prayer for the Holy Innocents

We remember this day, O God, the slaughter of the holy Innocents of Bethlehem by the order of King Herod. Receive, we beseech thee, into the arms of thy mercy all innocent victims; and by thy great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish thy rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The Day the Earth Moved

The 1908 Messina Earthquake Remembered
Earthquake damage at Messina, Sicily
By Niccolò Graffio
“Many people have told me that there were three separate and quite different movements of the earth in that awful minute. The first was backward and forward, the second upward, the third seemed to be circular. It was the second that destroyed Messina. Its violence, the fugitives say, was appalling. The noise, one man told me, was exactly like that made by a fast train in a tunnel.” – Robert Hichens: After the Earthquake: The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine; pg. 932; MacMillian & Co. April, 1909   
Archaeologists tell us that in the roughly 2,000 centuries our species has walked the earth we have only enjoyed the "creature comforts" of what we call civilization for about 60 of those centuries. This transition certainly did not occur overnight, and if one goes by the headlines, there are those who still have yet to become civilized. Continue reading

December 27, 2016

Feast of San Giovanni Evangelista

Viva San Giovanni!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 27th is the Feast Day of San Giovanni the Apostle and evangelist, patron saint of writers and theologians. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of San Giovanni la Punta (CT), Mariglianella (NA), Teverola (CE), Ailano (CE), Motta San Giovanni (RC), Castellalto (TE), and Paterno (PZ), among others. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer in his honor. The accompanying photo of San Giovanni was taken at the Basilica Santa Trofimena in Minori.
A Prayer to St. John the Evangelist
O Glorious St. John, you were so loved by Jesus that you merited to rest your head upon his breast, and to be left in his place as son to Mary. Obtain for us an ardent love for Jesus and Mary. Let me be united with them now on earth and forever after in heaven. Amen

In Memory of HM King Francesco II di Borbone

Memorial for HM King Francesco II 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo*
By Giovanni di Napoli
Today we commemorate the 122nd anniversary of the death of HM Francesco II di Borbone, the last king of the Two Sicilies.
Eldest Son of King Ferdinand II and his first wife Blessed Maria Cristina, Francesco was born in Napoli on January 16, 1836. With the tragic death of his saintly mother (she died during childbirth), the Crowned Prince was raised by his stepmother Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria.

On January 8, 1859 Francesco married Maria Sofia of Bavaria, daughter of Duke Maximilian, by proxy in Munich. The newlyweds met for the first time in Bari with much fanfare on February 3rd. Sadly, they had only one child, Christina Louise Pia (1868), who died when she was only six months old. 
After the untimely death of his father, Francesco ascended to the throne on May 22nd, 1859 at the age of 23. Shortly into his reign, and before he could implement his reforms and building programs, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was invaded by Garibaldi and his ragtag band of revolutionaries.
HM Francesco II di Borbone
With British and Piedmontese support, the garibaldini quickly took Sicily and advanced towards Naples. Looking to spare his capital the devastation of war, King Francesco II withdrew his forces north to Capua. Capitalizing on Garibaldi’s success and the young Neapolitan King's inexperience, King Victor Emanuel II of Savoy invaded the Kingdom from the Marche with-out a formal declaration of war.

After the Battle of Volturno (Sept. 30—Oct. 1) and his valiant defense at Gaeta, Francesco II was forced to surrender to the Piedmontese led by the bloodthirsty war criminal, General Cialdini. 
Dubbed the first emigrants from southern Italy, Francesco II and Maria Sofia lived in exile in Rome deprived of their personal assets, which were looted by Garibaldi and the Piedmontese invaders.

After the fall of Rome in 1870, their Majesties the King and Queen divided their time between Paris and Bavaria. Suffering from diabetes, Francesco II died in Arco, in the Trentino region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on December 27, 1894. Now buried inside the Basilica di Santa Chiara in Napoli, many are working towards the beatification of this devoutly religious King.
His Majesty lying in state
Prayer for the Repose of the Soul of HM King Francis II of the Two Sicilies 

O Triune God, who from your throne of mercy turns your gaze upon us, and who called to your following Francis II of Bourbon, electing him a King upon the earth, modeling his life to the same kingship of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, instilling in his heart sentiments of love and patience, of humility and clemency, of peace and forgiveness, cloaking him with the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, accept our plea and help us walk in his steps and live their virtues. Glorify him, we beseech you, upon the earth, as we believe he has already been glorified in heaven, and grant us through his prayer, that we may receive the graces which we need. Amen.
Pater, Ave and Gloria 
* The accompanying photo was taken at the 2014 memorial Mass sponsored by the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George at Saint Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village, New York City. 
Viva 'o Rre!

La Vigilia and Other Christmas Traditions

Baccalà with tomato, onion and olives
By Giovanni di Napoli
Like many Neapolitan Americans, my family keeps the tradition of La Vigilia di Natale, the southern Italian ritual of eating seafood and eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. Despite regular and varied claims to authenticity, I believe the so-called Festa dei sette pesci, or the Feast of the Seven Fishes, is a recent fabrication. Though more lavish then in the past, according to our matriarchs there were never a set number of dishes served. We simply ate what we could afford, and what was fresh and available.

Today, we normally have shrimp, calamari (squid), clams, mussels and scungilli (whelk), which all can be prepared in a variety of ways. Capitone fritto alla napoletana (fried eel) is usually the main course, but this year we had aragosta (lobster), ricci di mare (sea urchin) and baccalà (salt cod).
Lobster tails on the grill
As always, the ladies outdid themselves and treated us to another memorable dinner.
Following the fish bonanza was another southern Italian specialty: panzerotti, delicious crescent-shaped deep fried dough filled with mozzarella and tomato or scallion, ricotta and olives.
Next came fruit, roasted chestnuts, caffè and an assortment of delicious sweets, including Pasticciotti Leccesi and struffoli, the quintessential Neapolitan Christmas dessert that will satisfy the most stubborn sweet tooth. There is no panettone in my house.
The vigil, of course, is not just about food, it's also about family and faith.
After dinner we played games (tombola) with the kids and attended Midnight Mass in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Afterward, we walked through the neighborhood to see the spectacular Christmas decorations. My family has been doing this for as long as I can remember, though originally it was in East New York, Brooklyn, where my maternal grand- and great-grandparents were from.
"Dyker Lights"
Christmas morning we exchanged presents, made the rounds and visited family and friends until dinnertime. No less extravagant than the Eve, Christmas dinner was a culinary tour de force with plenty of hot and cold antipastiinsalata, pizza, baked manicotti and a American-style Christmas ham. Fruit, dessert and caffè complete the meal.
Soft torrone with almonds imported from Avellino
Not quite finished yet, December 26th is the Feast of Saint Stephen, or Saint Stephen's Day. In honor of Santo Stefano, the first martyr, we usually celebrate with torrone, a sticky nougat candy made from honey, nuts and egg whites that dates back to Roman times. I like mine with a glass of Strega or AmaroBuon Natale!
Amended 2016

December 26, 2016

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

Viva Santo Stefano!
December 26th is Saint Stephen's Day, or the Feast of Saint Stephen the Deacon, the first martyr of the Faith. He is the patron saint of stonecutters, bricklayers, deacons and those who suffer from headaches and migraines. 
Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Civita d'Antino (AQ), Putignano (BA), Baiano (AV), Santo Stefano in Aspromonte (RC), Santa Elisabetta (AG), Melito di Napoli (NA), and Sessa Cilento (SA), among others. 
As my chosen confirmation name, the Feast has an additional special significance to me. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Stephen
The accompanying photos were taken at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and Saint Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
A Prayer to Saint Stephen
O Glorious Saint Stephen, first of the martyrs, for the sake of Christ you gave up your life in testimony of the truth of His divine teaching. Obtain for us, dear Saint Stephen, the faith, the hope, the love, and the courage of martyrs.
When we are tempted to shirk our duty, or deny our faith, come to our assistance as a shining example of the courage of martyrs, and win for us a love like your own.
We ask it of you for the honor of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is the model and reward of all martyrs. Amen.

Photo of the Week: Madonna with Child by Domenico Gagini

Madonna with Child by Domenico Gagini, Duomo di Siracusa, Sicily
Photo by Niccolò Graffio

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Frederick II Hohenstaufen King of Sicily; Holy Roman Emperor
Federico II di Svevia, Palazzo Reale, Napoli 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Niccolò Graffio
“It is very obvious, and no more than natural, for princes to desire to extend their dominions, and when they attempt nothing but what they are able to achieve they are applauded, at least not upbraided thereby; but when they are not able to compass it, and yet will be doing, then they are condemned, and indeed not unworthily.” – Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince, III, 1513
The Kingdom of Sicily, founded by Roderigo (Roger) II on Christmas Day, 1130 passed to his fourth son Guglielmo (William) I upon his death on February 26th, 1154. Growing up, Guglielmo had little expectation of ever becoming king. Over the period of 1138-48 his three older brothers (Roderigo, Tancredo and Alfonso) all died under different circumstances, dramatically changing his fortunes.
Alas, Guglielmo had never been prepared for the rigors of kingship, and so his reign was but a shell of his father’s. His time on the throne was marked by foreign invasions (in which he lost his father’s North African possessions) and by intrigues and revolts at home. His last years were peaceful, him having made his peace with Pope Alexander III, who was installed in the Lateran Palace in November, 1165 under the protection of Norman guards. Continue reading

December 25, 2016

Buon Natale!

Holy Family by Salvatore di Franco
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas! Peace and joy be with you all.
In celebration I'm posting "The Old Manger" from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.(*) The accompanying photo of the Nativity was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The Old Manger
I recollect the old manger at Christmas fest
built by my father, his soul in peace may rest,
the grotto, the straw and the baby poorly dressed
attended by Saint Joseph and Mary blest,

The well, the gleaming houses, the grist mill,
the sheep that grazed the grass over the hill,
a frightened man, at center, a blacksmith on the right,
a shepherd standing, with his old shack in sight.

A comet, resplendent brightly like a star
over the cardboard fashioned into a cave,
guided the adoring kings from afar.

And I, enchanted, watching stood, as I was playing,
sweet angels, shining stars, clouds and songs;
I still do now, the old manger my memory recalling. 

(*) Reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 43

The Seeds of the Kingdom

Detail of Christ Crowning Roger II
Church of La Martorana, Palermo
By Niccolò Graffio
“For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings.” - William Shakespeare: Richard II, Act III, Scene 2, 1595.
Walking along the streets of Palermo, Sicily, one gets the feeling of being in a nexus of worlds. Whether one gazes at the Teatro Massimo opera house (the largest in Italy and third largest in Europe), strolls through the Church of Santa Teresa alla Kalsa (an outstanding example of Sicilian Baroque architecture!), walks along the ancient streets of La Kalsa with its many vendors, or peers at the mosaics in the Palazzo dei Normanni, one cannot help but notice the many cultural imprints left by this city’s former rulers.
Equally striking, however, is the level of poverty that exists there! Heavily damaged by Allied bombings during World War II, many of this city’s most majestic buildings remain unrepaired. The reasons? Neglect by both local government and Rome. Resources (financial and material) are severely limited on Sicily. The stranglehold of the Cosa Nostra on the economy is another reason. With most of Italy’s economic wealth concentrated (and kept!) in the North, there simply isn’t enough left to maintain these historic treasures, which are sadly left to crumble. It’s hard to believe less than 1,000 years ago this city was one of the wealthiest, if not thewealthiest, city in the Mediterranean region. Such, however, was the case. Continue reading

December 24, 2016

A River of Fire in the Land of Bells

The ’Ndocciata, Agnone’s Ancient Fire Ritual
The ’Ndocciata (Photo courtesy of
By Giovanni di Napoli
In the Molise region of southern Italy, in the Province of Isernia, stands the ancient hill top town of Agnone. Rich in history, art and culture, it is perhaps most famous for the manufacturing of bells. In fact, Agnone is known as the "town of the bells” and boasts the world's oldest foundry, the Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli, which some say dates back to the year 1000.
Agnone also has the distinction of having one of southern Italy’s oldest and largest fire rituals. Known as the ’Ndocciata, which in the local vernacular means "big torch,” the rite began as a pre-Christian “festival of light” in celebration of the winter solstice.
On the shortest night of the year, Samnite tribesmen would travel from the surrounding countryside into the town square with their 'ndocce, large torches bound together in the shape of a fan, where they would erect a huge bonfire. It is said the crackling fire would scare away witches and evil spirits, and the fortunes of the coming year could be foretold by which direction the sparks blew. Continue reading

Hot off the Presses: The Official Program for the Missa Cantata for the Repose of the Soul of S.M. Francesco II, Re delle Due Sicilie

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Also see:
Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George to Participate in the Missa Cantata for the Repose of the Soul of S.M. Francesco II, King of the Two Sicilies in Historic Little Italy, New York City
Missa Cantata for the Repose of the Soul of S.M. Francesco II di Borbone, King of the Two Sicilies
Michaelmas Fliers Are Ready For Distribution
A Sneak Peek at the Official Program for the Investiture and Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral

December 23, 2016

Discovering Recco and Fragonard at the Met

A Cat Stealing Fish, oil on canvas, late 1660s, by Giuseppe Recco
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
After confession on Reconciliation Monday, I decided to take the afternoon off from work and treat myself to a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It felt like its been ages since my last visit and I wanted to see the Museum’s resplendent Angel Tree and Baroque Neapolitan Crèche installation before Christmas. (See pics here)
On display in the Medieval Sculpture Hall, the towering spruce is adorned with a host of heavenly angels heralding the birth of Christ. At the base, Salvator di Franco’s (active 18th century) glorious Nativity is flanked by a multitude of exotic figures attributed to some of Naples’ finest sculptors, including Lorenzo Mosca (d. 1789) and Giuseppe Sanmartino (1720-1793). 
I couldn’t resist doing a little exploring, so I made my way to the European Painting Galleries on the second floor to see some of my old favorites. I’m glad I did, because while perusing the magnificent collection I came across Giuseppe Recco’s (1634-1695) animated still life, A Cat Stealing Fish. I’m not sure why I never noticed this painting before, but considering its unfortunate position above the door head in Gallery 623, I’m lucky to have spotted it during this visit.
The most famous member of a family of artists, Giuseppe Recco is regarded as the leading Neapolitan still-life painter of his day. Specializing in pictures of fish, this canvas, measuring 38 x 50 1/2 inches, shows a cat greedily eating an octopus. The work, dating from the late 1660s, clearly demonstrates the artist’s virtuoso skill in rendering different textures.
As luck would have it, Recco’s dramatic and naturalistic still life would not be my only surprise of the day.
Nearby, in Galleries 691-693, is the ongoing exhibit Drawing Triumphant, a celebration of Jean Honoré Fragonard’s (1732-1806) achievements as a master draftsman. To my delight, among the array of works on display, three are from the artist’s second visit to Naples in the spring of 1774, when he was at the height of his prowess. 
Focusing on the people of the streets, the Frenchman drew two red chalk studies of fisherman and a brush and brown wash portrait of an unknown Neapolitan woman in picturesque dress. Often dismissed by his contemporaries as preparatory work for paintings, Fragonard felt many of his drawings were stand-alone pieces. This remarkable exhibit, which closes on January 8, 2017, proves him right.
Portrait of a Neapolitan Woman, brush and brown wash over faint traces of black chalk underdrawing, 1774
(Left) A fisherman pulling a net, red chalk, 1774.
(Right) A fisherman leaning on an oar, red chalk, 1774

Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George to Participate in the Missa Cantata for the Repose of the Soul of S.M. Francesco II, King of the Two Sicilies in Historic Little Italy, New York City

December 22, 2016

The J. Paul Getty Museum Acquires Two Black Glazed Ancient Vases

Photo courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum has recently received the generous gift of two Classical Greek vases, donated by Constance Jordan of Altadena, California. The vases, both made in a South Italian workshop around 400 B.C., are covered in black glaze but otherwise undecorated. One is a kylix (drinking cup), and the other is an oinochoe (wine pitcher). Both objects are excellent examples of well-known types of ancient vessels and will be well-studied at the Getty Villa alongside other works in the collection. 
Additional information is available at 

Traditional Masses for Christmas Day and Upcoming 40 Day Season of Christmas

Dear Friends, as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I present to you this list of Traditional Masses for Christmas Day as well as other upcoming Sacred Liturgical Rites during the 40 day season of Christmas:

 Saint Paul the Apostle Church  
602 McLean Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10705-4766
Tel 914-963-7330

Saturday, December 24, 2016
10 PM - Tridentine High Mass
*Altar Servers Needed to Serve at this Holy Mass

Sunday, December 25, 2016
6:30 AM - Missa Aurora - Mass at Dawn - Tridentine Low Mass

 • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pontifical Shrine 
Served by the Society of the Catholic Apostolate - Pallottine Fathers since AD 1884 Miraculous Sacred Image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel crowned by Papal Decree of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X. Uninterrupted Celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass on Sundays since AD 1988
116th Street and Pleasant Avenue

Sunday, December 25, 2016
10:30 AM - Tridentine High Mass

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - Circumcision DNIC, Octave Day of Christmas
10:30 AM - Tridentine High Mass
2:30 PM - Solemn Mass in Spanish and Outdoor Procession in honor of Our Lady of the Clouds

Friday, January 6, 2017 - Feast of the Epiphany DNIC, Three Kings Day
11 AM - Tridentine Low Mass followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament All Day
6 PM - Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament
6:15 PM - Blessing of Epiphany Water - Bring your empty bottles or bottles of water to be Blessed!
7 PM - Solemn High Mass and Indoor Procession with the Christ Child
Noveritis Proclamation - Announcement of the Date of Easter and the surrounding Feasts
Blessing of Chalk, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Blessing of Statues and Religious Articles brought by the Faithful
Distribution of Epiphany Water, Frankincense and Chalk

 • Saint Agnes Church 
A Parish served by The Prelature of the Holy Cross - Opus Dei
43rd Street and 3rd Avenue,
near Grand Central Terminal

Sunday, December 25, 2016
11 AM - Tridentine Solemn High Mass

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - Circumcision DNIC, Octave Day of Christmas
11 AM - Tridentine Solemn High Mass

 • Holy Innocents Church
37th Street and Broadway
New York, NY

Sunday, December 25, 2016

12 Midnight - Tridentine High Mass followed by Festive Reception
2 AM - Missa Aurora - Mass at Dawn - Tridentine Low Mass
9 AM - Tridentine Low Mass
10:30 AM - Tridentine High Mass
2:30 PM - Solemn Vespers and Benediction, Rosary at 2 PM

 • Saint Catherine of Siena Church
Served by the Order of Preachers - Dominican Friars
Site of the Sacra Liturgia Conference AD 2015
68th Street and 1st Avenue

Sunday, December 25, 2016
12 Midnight - Tridentine High Mass in the Dominican Rite

 • Our Lady of Peace Church 
522 Carroll Street
Brooklyn, NY
Every Sunday at 9:30 AM

Sunday, December 25, 2016
9:30 AM - Tridentine High Mass

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - Circumcision DNIC, Octave Day of Christmas
9:30 AM - Tridentine Low Mass with Organ and Hymns

 • The Shrine Church Church of the Most Precious Blood National Shrine of San Gennaro
113 Baxter Street
New York, NY 10013
Tel: 212-226-6427

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 - Feast of Saint John the Evangelist in the Octave of Christmas
7:15 PM - Tridentine High Mass
This Mass is being offered for the Repose of the Soul of S.M. Francesco II di Borbone, Re delle Due Sicilie. Anniversary of Death

 • St. John Paul II Church at Immaculate Conception
199 North Broadway
Sleepy Hollow NY 10591
TEL: 914.631.0446

Sunday, December 25, 2016
1:30 PM - Tridentine High Mass

Sunday, January 1, 2017
3 PM - Tridentine High Mass

Una Voce Westchester

 • Holy Name of Jesus Church
245 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Monday, January 2, 2017 - Patronal Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
3 PM - Tridentine High Mass