January 31, 2016

Feast of Blessed Maria Cristina, Queen of the Two Sicilies

Blessed Queen Maria Cristina 
of the Two Sicilies
January 31st is the Feast Day of Blessed Maria Cristina di Savoia, Queen of the Two Sicilies. Daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele I and Maria Theresa of Austria, she married King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies in 1832. Immensely pious, “Reginella Santa” as she was popularly called, performed numerous acts of charity and important social works for the poor people of Naples. On January 31, 1836, at the age of 23, she died after giving birth to her first son Francesco II, the last King of the Two Sicilies. Queen Maria Cristina was Beatified on January 25, 2014 by Pope Francis at the Basilica Santa Chiara, in Naples, where she is interred. In celebration I'm posting a couple of Prayers to Blessed Maria Cristina. Translations courtesy of Cav. Charles Sant'Elia.
Prayers to Blessed Maria Cristina di Savoia
O Dio, che hai posto nei tuoi santi una grande luce e un provvido sostegno per il tuo popolo in cammino, ascolta con bontà la nostra preghiera, e glorifica la sua Serva la Ven. Maria Cristina di Savoia, nella cui vita di sposa e di regina ci hai offerto un modello fulgido di carità sapiente e coraggiosa, e concedi a noi, per sua intercessione, la grazia ..... che da te, con fiducia, invochiamo. Per Cristo nostro Signore. Amen. 
O God, who has placed a great light in your saints and a provident support for your people along the path, listen with goodness to our prayer, and glorify your Servant the Ven. Maria Cristina di Savoia, in whose life as a wife and queen you have offered us a shining model of wise and courageous charity, and grant us,  through her intercession, the grace ..... which from you, with trust, we invoke. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 
O beata Trinità che sebbene felice in voi stessa, pure trovaste le vostre compiacenze nel cuore di Maria Cristina di Savoia, deh! ascoltate le nostre povere preghiere. Questa vostra serva fedele in mezzo ai fastigi della Corte vi servì costantemente in profonda umiltà, in ardente carità, in pietà fervorosa, da rendersi modello di perfezione alla Corte e al popolo. Fiduciosi della divina parola, che Voi avreste onorato che vi avrebbe glorificato, noi vi chiediamo di elevare al culto degli Altari la vostra serva fedele Maria Cristina che vivente altro cercò, altro non volle se non il vostro onore e la vostra gloria. Per questi altissimi meriti concedeteci la grazia che ardentemente vi domandiamo... tornerà a vostra gloria e contribuirà all’esaltazione della vostra diletta serva Maria Cristina di Savoia. 
O blessed Trinity that while happy in yourself, yet you found your gratification in the heart of Maria Cristina di Savoia, ah! Hear our poor prayers. This faithful servant of yours amid the heights of the Court served you constantly in profound humility, in ardent charity, in fervid piety, so as to render herself a model of perfection to the Court and to the people. We are faithful in the divine word, that you would have honored who had glorified you, we ask you to elevate to the worship of the Altars your faithful servant Maria Cristina what while alive nothing did she seek, nothing did she want other than your honor and your glory. For these most high merits grant us the grace that we ardently ask of you... it shall return to your glory and shall contribute to the exaltation of your cherished servant Maria Cristina di Savoia.

Feast of San Ciro di Alessandria

Viva San Ciro!
January 31st is the Feast Day of San Ciro di Alessandria (Saint Cyrus of Alexandria), doctor, hermit and martyr. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Portici (NA), Vico Equense (NA), Nocera Superiore (SA), Grottaglie (TA) and Marineo (PA), among others. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Cyrus. The accompanying photo is a devotional card from Marineo, Palermo.
Prayer to Saint Cyrus
O Glorious St. Cyrus, Doctor, Martyr and our merciful Patron, I implore your intercession with confidence. Watch with equally pitiful eye my spiritual and physical infirmities. Do not forsake me, listen to the voice of my heart, and give me your help and your protection. Amen.

The Great Cocozza

The Tragically Short Life of Mario Lanza
Mario Lanza
By Niccolò Graffio
“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends- It gives a lovely light!” — Edna St. Vincent Millay: First Fig, (1920)
My clearest memories growing up of my father was of him being a workaholic.  He had spent the first 17 years of his life living in Italy helping his mother and older brothers try to eke out a living on the family farm.  His father immigrated to America and found work with the railroads. As happened to many of our people, he spent most of his time here while sending money back to help the family. In addition, he saved up his money to help pay for the passage of his sons to follow him.  
You see, while all this was going on, Benito Mussolini was busy pursuing his dreams of building a “fourth shore” (i.e. establish a second Roman Empire under his command).  Towards this end he allied himself with Adolf Hitler, another winner, and together they ignited another European conflagration. Continue reading

January 30, 2016

Raimondo di Sangro

Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero
The Prince of Alchemists
By Niccolò Graffio
“All scientific men were formerly accused of practicing magic. And no wonder, for each said to himself: ‘I have carried human intelligence as far as it will go, and yet so-and-so has gone further than I. Ergo, he has taken to Sorcery.’” – C.L. de Montesquieu: Persian Letters, CXLV, 1721
In Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s epic play Faust, the protagonist, Heinrich Faust, sells his soul to the Devil (Mephistopheles) in exchange for infinite knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust, a scholar who was a member of the aristocracy, made the infernal deal due to his despairing belief in the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning.
Goethe’s character was fictional, though many believe he was an aggregate of several historical personages. The play, considered to be one of the greatest works of German literature, is taken by many to be an allegory for man’s insatiable and never ending quest for knowledge. Continue reading

January 28, 2016

Feast of San Tommaso D'Aquino

Viva San Tommaso!
January 28th is the Feast Day of San Tommaso D'Aquino (St. Thomas Aquinas), Doctor of the Church. Considered one of the Church's greatest theologians, he is the patron saint of students, academics, scholars and philosophers. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Aquino (FR), Belcastro (CZ), San Mango d'Aquino (CZ), Falerna (CZ) and Grottaminarda (AV), among others. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Thomas Aquinas. The accompanying photo was taken at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas
Father of wisdom, You inspired Saint Thomas Aquinas with an ardent desire for holiness and study of sacred doctrine. Help us, we pray, to understand what he taught and to imitate what he lived. Amen.

January 27, 2016

Terra Sangue Mare Announce Debut CD for April

Photo courtesy of Michela Musolino
Terra Sangue Mare (Michael Delia, Fabio Turchetti and Michela Musolino) will release their highly anticipated debut CD in April, 2016. Recorded in Prague, during their recent European tour, the self-titled CD gives voice to the trio’s encounter with, exploration and interpretation of Sicilian Folk and Roots Music.
A limited number of CDs (with an autographed and framed photo from the band’s recording session) will be made available for pre-order in March. For more details visit michelamusolino.com or pre-order the CD at michelamusolino.com/store

Compra Sud — Coluccio & Sons, Inc.

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Let's support those who keep our traditions and folkways alive

Coluccio & Sons, Inc.
1214 60th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
Tel: (718) 436-6700
Fax: (718) 438-0564
Email: cathy@dcoluccioandsons.com



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.

January 26, 2016

Arturo DiModica and His Charging Bull

Bronze Cavallo
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Since beginning this exercise in ethnic self-awareness I've intermittently written about New York City's public monuments by Sicilian Americans, specifically the works of Anthony de Francisci and Pietro Montana. However, no discussion of Sicilian-American sculptors would be complete without mentioning Arturo DiModica and his world famous Charging Bull
Arturo DiModica was born on January 26, 1941 in Vittoria, a small city in the province of Ragusa, Sicily. Showing signs of artistic ability at an early age, his parents Giuseppe and Angela supported his creative endeavors. When he was 19, DiModica left for Florence to study and refine his skills at the Academia Del Nudo Libero. After just two years he opened his own studio, quickly making a name for himself among critics and collectors alike. He worked primarily in bronze, but also with the highly valued Carrara marble, prized for its use in sculpture since antiquity.
In 1973 DiModica came to America to broaden his artistic horizons. He opened a workshop on Grand Street in SoHo, meeting with almost immediate success. Winning awards and accolades from the New York art community, his works are highly prized. He purchased property on Crosby Street in 1978 and built his current studio, where some of his most beloved pieces, including Cavallo, a feisty bronze horse, were created. Continue reading

January 25, 2016

Feast of the Conversion of San Paolo Apostolo

Viva San Paolo!
January 25th is the Feast of the Conversion of San Paolo (Saint Paul), Apostle and Martyr. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Aversa (CE), Solarino (SR), Palazzolo Acreide (SR), Seclì (LE), and Casale di Carinola (CE), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Paul. The accompanying photo (courtesy of Lucian) was taken outside Saint Paul RCC in Philadelphia, PA.

Prayer to St. Paul

O Glorious St. Paul, after persecuting the Church you became by God's grace its most zealous Apostle. To carry the knowledge of Jesus, our divine Savior, to the uttermost parts of the earth you joyfully endured prison, scourging, stoning, and shipwreck, as well as all manner of persecutions culminating in the shedding of the last drop of your blood for our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for us the grace to labor strenuously to bring the faith to others and to accept any trials and tribulations that may come our way. Help us to be inspired by your Epistles and to partake of your indomitable love for Jesus, so that after we have finished our course we may join you in praising him in heaven for all eternity. Amen

January 24, 2016

Photo of the Week: Detail of the Portal of the Palatine Chapel in Naples

Detail of the Portal of the Palatine Chapel (Cappella Palatina) designed by Andrea dell'Aquila, Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

January 22, 2016

Feast of San Domenico di Sora

Viva San Domenico!
January 22nd is the Feast Day of San Domenico di Sora, Benedictine abbot and founder of several hermitages and monasteries in the Kingdom of Naples. Renowned for his healing miracles, San Domenico is invoked against poisonous snakebites, rabid dogs, fever and toothaches. Widely venerated across Southern Italy, the great healer is the principal patron of Sora (Terra di Lavoro), Colcullo (AQ), Pizzoferrato (CH), Villalago (AQ) and Fornelli (IS), among others. 
Each May in Colcullo, the town celebrates the Festa dei Serpari, or Feast of the Snake Handlers, in honor of their beloved patron. The event draws thousands of pilgrims each year.
During the festivities, San Domenico’s statue is covered with live snakes and paraded through the streets with great fanfare. Among the saint’s relics on display at the local church are his molar and his mule’s iron horse shoe. The tooth is reputed to heal snake bites, while the horse shoe (a common symbol for good luck) is said to protect the town’s animals from danger. 
Popular custom says if you pull the chain of the church doorbell with your teeth you will be protected from toothaches. It’s common to see people wrap a handkerchief around the chain links, bite down, and ring the bell.
Some believe the snake ritual dates back to pagan times when the local Marsi tribes worshiped the telluric snake-goddess Angitia, daughter of Aeëtes, who taught the art of medicine to her devotees. The snake, among other things, is an ancient symbol of healing. Consider the serpent entwined Rod of Asclepius, the staff of the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing still used today by medical institutions.
To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to San Domenico Abate. The accompanying photo comes courtesy of Made in South Italy Today.
Prayer to San Domenico Abate
O glorious San Domenico, beloved patron and miracle worker, you served God in humility and confidence on earth. Now you enjoy His beatific vision in heaven. You persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life. With your strength protect us, your devotees, from the venom of wild animals and the torment of toothaches. Amen.

The Most Glorious Voice

Rosa Ponselle – La Magnifica
Rosa Ponselle
By Niccolò Graffio
“In my lifetime there have been three vocal miracles: Caruso, Ruffo and Ponselle. Apart from these there have been several wonderful singers.” – Tullio Serafin
As documented in previous articles, our people, the children the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, have left their mark on the history of mankind in a number of ways.  We have produced prominent political figures, artists, doctors and even famous scientists.
Of all the endeavors of mankind, however, perhaps none has felt our mark as greatly as the realm of music!  Books, TV shows and movies have been made about eminent singers and songwriters whose roots lie in Southern Italy.  We have not only produced people considered noteworthy in this regard, we have produced those who can be considered truly great!
Opera is that noble art form that combines singing, songwriting, acting and drama.  Our unmistakable fingerprint lies upon it!  Whether it is the brilliant musical score of Bellini or the beautiful tenor of Caruso, we can say with no small measure of pride that we have contributed to the betterment and perpetuation of this hallmark of classic Western Civilization. Continue reading

January 21, 2016

Feast of Sant'Agnese, Vergine e Martire

Evviva Sant'Agnese!
January 21st is the Feast Day of Sant'Agnese (Saint Agnes), Virgin and Martyr. Patron saint of young girls and chastity, she is the principal protectress of Pineto (TE), Corropoli (TE), and Sava (SA). To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer in her honor. The accompanying photo was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Dating from the third quarter of the 17th century, the bronze statuette was modeled after a work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (b. Dec. 7, 1598, Naples—d. Nov. 28, 1680, Rome).
Prayer to St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
O Little St. Agnes, so young and yet made so strong and wise by the power of God, protect by your prayers all the young people of every place whose goodness and purity are threatened by the evils and impurities of this world. Give them strength in temptation and a true repentance when they fail.  Help them to find true Christian friends to accompany them in following the Lamb of God and finding safe pastures in His Church and in her holy sacraments. May you lead us to the wedding banquet of heaven to rejoice with you and all the holy martyrs in Christ who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

New Music

New music that may be of interest to our readers

Sicily: Music for the Holy Week  Various Artists

Label: Unesco
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Audio CD: $18.75
Number of Discs: 1

Available at Amazon.com

Read description

January 20, 2016

Tricentennial of the Birth of King Carlo di Borbone

Carlo di Borbone, Re di Napoli e di Sicilia
b. Madrid, January 20, 1716 – d. Madrid, December 14, 1788
By Giovanni di Napoli

January 20, 2016 marks the 300th Anniversary of the birth of King Carlo di Borbone, the Great Restorer of the Kingdom of Naples.

Born in 1716 in Madrid, Carlo was the eldest son of King Philip V of Spain and his second wife Elisabeth Farnese. Fourth in line to the Spanish throne, Elisabeth secured him the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and duchies of Parma and Piacenza in Italy.

However, with the outbreak of the War of Polish Succession (1733-1738), young Carlo set out to conquer the viceroyalties of Naples and Sicily from the Austrian Habsburgs. Defeating the Austrians at Bitonto on May 25th, then conquering Sicily, he was crowned King in the Cathedral of Palermo on July 2, 1735.

With the cessation of hostilities and ratification of the Treaty of Vienna in 1738, Emperor Charles VI of Austria renounced all claims to the Regno. In return Carlo relinquished dominion of Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany and was confirmed as King of Naples and Sicily. At long last, after centuries of provincial servitude to Spain and Austria the once great and independent Kingdom was redeemed.

HRM King Carlo di Borbone ruled Naples and Sicily as an enlightened monarch for many years, undertaking one of the largest and expensive building programs of the 18th century. Among his many achievements were the construction of the Teatro di San Carlo, the Reale Albergo dei Poveri, the Cavalry Barracks at the Ponte della Maddalena, and the Foro Carolino.

Nevertheless, in 1759, due to the laws of royal succession and failure of his step-brother King Ferdinand VI to produce an heir, King Carlo ascended the Spanish Throne in Madrid, leaving the kingdom he restored in southern Italy to his third son, 8-year-old Ferdinando.

King Carlo died in Madrid on December 14, 1788. Viva ‘o Rre!

Further Reading: Architecture and Statecraft: Charles of Bourbon's Naples, 1734-1759 by Robin L. Thomas, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013
Also see:
The Great Restorer: Charles of Bourbon

Feast of San Sebastiano Martire

Viva San Sebastiano!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
January 20th is the Feast Day of San Sebastiano (Saint Sebastian), martyr and patron saint of soldiers and athletes. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Melilli (SR), Cerami (EN), Tortorici (ME), Maniace (CT), Acireale (CT), San Sebastiano al Vesuvio (NA), Caserta (CE), Conca della Campania (CE), Aiello del Sabato (AV) and Martirano (CZ), among others. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Sebastian. The accompanying photo was taken at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Montclair, New Jersey.  
Prayer to Saint Sebastian
Dear Commander at the Roman Emperor's court, you chose to be a soldier of Christ and dared to spread faith in the King of Kings, for which you were condemned to die. Your body, however, proved athletically strong and the executing arrows extremely weak. So another means to kill you was chosen and you gave your life to the Lord. May soldiers be always as strong in their faith as their Patron Saint so clearly has been. Amen.

The Great Restorer: Charles of Bourbon

Charles of Bourbon, Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Go forth and win: the most beautiful crown in Italy awaits you." – Elizabeth Farnese to her son Charles of Bourbon
Charles of Bourbon was born on January 20, 1716 in Madrid. He was the eldest child of King Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese. Through conquest and diplomacy the monarchs acquired the ducal crowns of Tuscany and Parma for the young Prince. Not content with these titles, the ambitious royals believed the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies to be a more fitting prize for their son and plotted to wrest the Regno from the Austrian Empire.
At the age of eighteen Charles descended from his ducal dominions to invade the viceroyalty and conquer the "the most beautiful crown in Italy" for his own. At the helm of his army, which was composed of sixteen thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, was the illustrious General Captain José Carrillo de Albornoz, the Count of Montemar. They had the support of the Spanish navy. 
When the Bourbon forces crossed the frontier they met with minimal resistance as the Austrians yielded in rapid succession. Charles entered Naples on May 10, 1734. Awaiting reinforcements from Austria, the imperial viceroy, Giulio Visconti, retreated with the bulk of his forces to Puglia. However, because the Austrians were tied up in Lombardy fighting against the French and Sardinians in the War of Polish Succession (1733-1735) the expected help never arrived. Upon hearing the news of the advancing Bourbons the viceroy wasted no time and set sail for Vienna. Continue reading

Announcing the 2016 Feast of Saint Anthony, SoHo, New York City

For more information visit www.stanthonynyc.org

January 19, 2016

Feast of San Catello Vescovo

Evviva San Catello!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
January 19th is the Feast Day of San Catello (Saint Catellus), Bishop and protector of Castellammare di Stabia, a commune in the province of Naples. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to San Catello. The accompanying photo was taken at Saint Michael's Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
Prayer to San Catello
Glorious San Catello, beloved patron of Castellammare di Stabia, you served God in humility and confidence on earth. Now you enjoy His beatific vision in heaven. You persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life. Remember now the dangers and confusion and anguish that surround me and intercede for me in my needs and troubles. Enlighten, protect and guide me towards eternal salvation. Amen.

A Most Illustrious Corpse

Judge Paolo Borsellino Remembered
Judge Paolo Borsellino
By Niccolò Graffio
“Times of heroism are generally times of terror.” – R.W. Emerson: Heroism, 1841
Paolo Borsellino was born in Piazza Magione, a middle-class neighborhood in the heart of the city of Palermo, Sicily on January 19, 1940. His parents, both pharmacists, were supporters of the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini and its exploits in Africa. This was a factor in his decision to study recent history as well as his later political orientation.
Growing up, he befriended a fellow soul who, like himself, would one day become a legend in the Italian judiciary: Giovanni Falcone. Years later, Falcone would once recall how he and Borsellino would spend their youth in Palermo’s popular Albergheria quarter playing ping-pong with other young men who grew up to become Mafia capos. Continue reading

January 18, 2016

Around the Web (January 2016)

Items of interest from around the web
Persephone, Altes Museum, Berlin
The Enigmatic Persephone at Calabria The Other Italy
Where is Persephone?
The first time I laid eyes on Persephone, I had no idea as to her history or the significance she would hold for me in time to come. I was in Berlin and the antiquities collection of the famous Pergamon Museum was on my list of cultural must-sees. Seven years later I would arrive in Locri, Persephone’s hometown in present-day Calabria, with just a suitcase in hand to teach English to the descendants of her disciples.
Somehow, another seven years would slip by… And then this past autumn I decided it was high time to see her again, but with a much different eye. 
I wasn’t exactly sure where in Berlin she was. Part of the Pergamon was closed for restoration, and some antiquities had been moved to the Altes Museum next door. I walked into the Pergamon first and asked at the ticket and information counters. “No, sorry. Never heard of her.” The same responses at the entrance and in the bookshop of the Altes Museum, which I thought was odd for such an important marble statue. Nevertheless, I wanted to see their classical antiquities collection, so I bought a ticket and entered. Continue reading

The best way to know the true character of a place is through its literature and history.
One of the most surprising discoveries on my journey to know and understand Sicily better has been Anthony Di Renzo’s book Trinàcria (Guernica, Toronto 2013) which evokes the spirit of Sicily as eloquently as a Quasimodo poem or as apt as a scene from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s Sicilian masterpiece The Leopard.
Di Renzo gathers the threads of the history of Bourbon Sicily and its most vibrant characters to bring their energy back to life for us. With the voice of the Marchesa of Scalea he creates an eccentric aristocrat character filled with sarcasm, arrogance and shrewd observation. Continue reading

Photo of the Week: Aquarius Medallion depicting Ganymede, the water-bearer

The Aquarius Medallion in the Meridian Hall at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)

January 17, 2016

Feast of Sant'Antonio Abate

Viva Sant'Antonio! Ceramic painting in Vietri Sul Mare
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
January 17th is the Feast Day of Sant'Antonio Abate, also known as Saint Anthony the Great, one of the founders of Christian monasticism. He is regarded as the patron Saint of livestock, fire and contagious diseases, particularly skin maladies (e.g. shingles) and ergotism, a toxic condition caused by eating grains contaminated with ergot fungus. Also known as St. Anthony's Fire, ergotism causes gangrene in the extremities and drives its victims mad, symptoms previously associated with demonic possession.
In Southern Italy huge wooden pyres called the Bonfires of Saint Anthony (not to be confused with St. Anthony's Fire) are burned on the eve of his festival in public squares throughout the night. The purification ritual, which is meant to ward off evil spirits, also signifies the coming end of winter and the anticipation of spring. Local wines and delicacies are enjoyed, as well as fireworks, processions, music and other festivities. Continue reading

January 16, 2016

Viva 'o Rre! Remembering His Majesty King Francis II of the Two Sicilies

HM King Francis II di Borbone
By Giovanni di Napoli
Today we remember the birthday 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.

Francesco married Maria Sofia of Bavaria, daughter of Duke Maximilian, by proxy in Munich on January 8, 1859. The young couple met 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.

With British and Piedmontese support, the garibaldini quickly took Sicily and advanced towards Naples. Looking to spare his capital the devastation of war, King Francis 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 without a formal declaration of war.

After the Battle of Volturno (Sept. 30—Oct. 1) and his valiant defense at Gaeta, Francis II was forced to surrender to the Piedmontese led by the bloodthirsty war criminal, General Cialdini.
Dubbed the first emigrants from southern Italy, Francis 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. Viva 'o Rre!

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

January 15, 2016

Feast of San Mauro Abate

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
January 15th is the Feast Day of San Mauro Abate (Saint Maurus the abbot), wonder-worker and healer of the sick. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Viagrande (CT), Aci Castello (CT), San Mauro Castelverde (PA), San Mauro Forte (MT), San Mauro La Bruca (SA), and Casoria (NA), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Maurus. The accompanying photo of the Madonna and Child with San Mauro Abate by Francesco Solimena was taken at the Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo in Naples.
Prayer to Saint Maurus
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Maurus may commend us unto thee, that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy find favor in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

January 13, 2016

Announcing the Second Annual La Primavera Vinni (Spring Has Come) Concert in NYC

Sicilian Folk and Roots Music with Terra, Sangue, Mare and Guests

Thursday, March 10th


Father Demo Hall
Our Lady of Pompeii Church

25 Carmine Street
(at the corner of Bleecker)
New York City, NY 10014

The Second Annual, La Primavera Vinni, a party of folk song and dance to celebrate the arrival of Spring!

Join us again as we welcome Spring with a night of folk music and dance of Sicily and Southern Italy. Once a year the theater below Our Lady of Pompeii Church turns into an Italian Piazza with a music and dance concert when we celebrate the end of winter and Persephone's return to the land of the living! It will be an evening of tamburelli, organetti and zampogne, tarantellas, balletti and tammuriatas.

For more info visit La Primavera Vinni/Spring Has Come! on facebook

Order tickets at Eventbrite

Announcing the 7th Annual Festival Italiano in Port St. Lucy, Florida


January 12, 2016

Viva 'o Rre! His Majesty King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies

HM Ferdinand IV at nine
By Giovanni di Napoli
Today we remember the birthday of HM Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies.
Born in Naples on January 12, 1751, Ferdinand was the third son of King Carlo di Borbone and Maria Amalia of Saxony. In 1759, at the age of 8, he became King of Sicily and Naples (as Ferdinand III and IV, respectively), when his father abdicated the throne to take that of Madrid. The Kingdom (Regno) was ruled by the regent Bernardo Tanucci until his coming of age.
In 1768 Ferdinand married Maria Carolina of Austria and together they had 18 children, with only seven surviving to adulthood. In 1775, with the birth of their son and heir, Francesco, Maria became an influential member of the State Council.
Early in their reign, the enlightened rulers enacted many reforms, including educational and economic development. However, after the horrific events of the French Revolution, and the discovery of a republican conspiracy in Naples, their Royal Majesties were forced to put their reforms on hold. In order to deal with the threat, they joined the first counterrevolutionary coalition with Austria and Great Britain against the French Republic.
With startling speed Napoleon’s forces overran northern Italy and soon occupied Rome (1798). After the Bourbons’ failed attempt to restore the Pope, Napoleon’s war-machine, under the command of General Championnet, invaded the Regno. Exhorting his subjects to resist the invasion, King Ferdinand and his British allies were forced to retreat to Palermo, Sicily. After fierce street fighting, the French finally conquered Naples, killing thousands of loyal Neapolitans who rose in defense of their King and country. Propped up with French bayonets, the widely unpopular Parthenopean Republic was installed on January 22, 1799.
Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo leading the Sanfedisti, protected by St. Anthony
In February the King’s Vicar, Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, departed Sicily with only one ship and seven men to reconquer Naples. Landing at La Cortona in his native Calabria on February 8, Ruffo quickly raised an army of royalist volunteers to defend the Bourbon cause and drive out the hated Jacobin invaders.
On June 13, 1799, the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua, Ruffo and his victorious Armata della Santa Fede (Army of the Holy Faith) restored the Bourbons in Naples. Returning in triumph, the Bourbon Court meted out punishment against the republican traitors. 
The royal family began rebuilding their devastated Kingdom, ruling in peace until hostilities erupted again in 1805. After the defeat of Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz (Dec. 2), Napoleon quickly set his sights on Naples. Capturing the city in 1806, the Emperor installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. Four years later he replaced Joseph (who was given the Spanish Crown) with his brother-in-law Gioacchino Murat
The Royal Family of Naples by Angelica Kauffman
Escaping to Palermo with British support, Bourbon resistance continued in Calabria until the collapse of Napoleon’s Empire in 1815. However, during Ferdinand’s rule in Sicily, the meddling British encouraged Sicilian autonomy and forced the King to grant the Constitution of 1812. Abdicating his power, Ferdinand appointed his son Prince Francis as regent. The Queen was exiled to Austria.
Sadly, Maria Carolina did not live to see “The Little Corporal’s” final defeat or her husband’s restoration (May 20, 1815). She died of a stroke on September 8, 1814 in Vienna.
HM Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
After the Congress of Vienna (Sept. 1814—June 1815), King Ferdinand chose to officially unite his two realms, therefore becoming Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies (Dec. 8). In the hopes of national reconciliation Ferdinand granted clemency to Murat's collaborators, allowing them not only to go unpunished, but also retain their positions and privileges. He would later regret his leniency.
The Carbonari Revolution of 1820, inspired by the Spanish Constitution, forced the King to make unwanted concessions and grant a constitution. However, at the Congress of Laibach (Jan. 11—May 12, 1821), Ferdinand secured the aid of Austria against the Carbonari and other subversive malcontents, revoking the Constitution and restoring absolute rule.
His Sicilian Majesty died in Naples on January 4, 1825. He was 74 years of age. Viva ‘o Rre!

The following sources proved invaluable to this post:
The Bourbons of Naples (1734-1825) by Harold Acton, Methuen and Co. LTD, 1957

Viva 'o Rre! His Majesty King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies

Portrait of Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies
b. Palermo, January 12, 1810 — d. Caserta, May 22, 1859
Today we remember the birthday of HM Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies. The elder son of King Francis I, Ferdinand II ascended to the throne on November 8, 1830. A firm hand in turbulent times, Ferdinand II ruled until his untimely death on May 22, 1859. Viva 'o Rre!
Further reading: HM Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies

January 11, 2016

Photo of the Week: Statue of HM King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies

Statue of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies by Antonio Canova, Grand Staircase, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

Congratulations Little Stephen Napoli on Your Baptism

January 3, 2016
May God’s grace and blessings guide you throughout your life

January 10, 2016

The Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord

Celebrated the Sunday after January 6th (the Epiphany), the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, or Theophany, commemorates Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. This is the second manifestation, or epiphany, of Christ and marks the beginning of His public ministry. In celebration I’m posting a Prayer for the Baptism of the Lord. The accompanying photo of Gerolamo Starace-Franchis’ painting Battesimo di Cristo was taken at the Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo in Napoli.
Prayer for the Baptism of the Lord
Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. 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. Amen

Celebrate Carnevale 2016 with New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Group

For more info visit New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Group on Facebook

January 8, 2016

The Search for our Ancestry (XX)

A Cautionary Tale
By Angelo Coniglio
Once an immigrant ancestor’s name and town of birth have been determined, we can begin the search for his/her vital records. After your search of family records, censuses, and passenger manifests, presumably at least an approximate year of birth is known. If not, try to estimate: how old was your ancestor when he died, in what year, etc. How old was he when he married? You should have a range of years which are a reasonable approximation of his birth year. If you have a day, month and year from a marriage document, death record, headstone or other secondary source, consider it approximate, until you find a primary record. 
If you have sufficient funds and know the town name, you could travel there.  In or near the municipio (town hall), most towns have an Anagrafe or Registry Office where all the civil birth, marriage and death records for its citizens, from the early 1800’s, are kept in large permanent registers. Church records, sometimes dating back to the 1300’s, are usually kept in a similar fashion at each parish, or sometimes at a central diocesan church.  Unless your ancestral town is a large city like Rome, or Palermo, you’ll have to speak the local language, or pay an interpreter to help. If you speak the language your immigrant ancestor spoke a hundred years ago, you may not be understood. Unfortunately, even if you speak fluent Sicilian, it is no longer taught in Sicilian schools, and even locals speak Italian, not Sicilian in public situations.
If you plan on visiting your ancestors’ town for genealogical research, be forewarned that you may need several days before you gain access to the records you seek.  State and church holidays, daily siestas, and other delays generally mean that you can’t just plan ahead to spend a morning in a town and find what you seek in the way of genealogical records.  An example follows.
My wife Angie and I went to Sicily in 2006. We planned to land in Catania, rent a car to drive along the north coast, then swing down from Palermo to my parents’ birthplace, Serradifalco, in Caltanissetta Province. We would be passing close to Angie’s ancestral village of Mussomeli, in the same province, so we thought we’d make a quick stop there to resolve a question we had about the surname of one of her great-grandmothers. We found the public cemetery in Mussomeli, but though it was open, other visitors told us that there was no attendant because it was Italian Liberation Day. We began looking for my wife’s ancestors’ headstones, and learned something about Sicilian burial customs.  
The same friendly visitors told us that we would not find stones from the early 1800s for two reasons: 1) the earliest burials were not in public cemeteries, but in churchyards. Only after disease transmission was understood in the 1800s were laws passed to require consecrated public cemeteries, outside of town limits; and 2) in the 1800s, usually cemetery plots were not bought, but rented. When the deceased’s family petered out or moved away, if the rent was not paid, the remains were disinterred and placed in common ossuary chapels.
Disappointed at not finding any useful information, we decided that after we had settled in at our destination, we would return to Mussomeli, a half-hour’s drive away, to expand our research. We did the next day, scheduling two hours around lunchtime to go back to the municipio and find out more about the cemetery. At the town office, we were told that ‘lu Prufissuri’, the caretaker of the cemetery, was there each day after siesta, at about 3 PM.  We decided we’d come back the next day. When we pulled into town the next day at 3:30 PM, and drove toward the cemetery, we found the road blocked by the town’s weekly street market. This was on the only road to the cemetery! In response to our queries, we were told that the market would last until sundown. Oh, well, tomorrow was another day!
We returned the next day at 3 PM, made it to the cemetery, and parked near the office.  The office door was locked, and a note in the window said “Gone to town on an errand, will return shortly.” After a few minutes, a car pulled up and an elderly gentleman stepped out, unlocked the office an entered. I went up to the service window and asked “Are you lu Prufissuri?” He sheepishly answered, in Sicilian “Well, I’m the custodian, they call me the Professor.”  I asked “May we see the cemetery’s register of burials?” 
He answered “Nicholas has the key to the registers.” I asked “Where is Nicholas?”, and he responded “He’s not here today.” After changing our schedule on four successive days, we couldn’t go back another time, and our search of the cemetery’s register will have to be done on a future trip! 
Fortunately, you may be able to find images of many original records without having to do extensive travel. Next time, I’ll start to explain just how to do it.
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by his Sicilian research. Order the paperback or the Kindle version at http://bit.ly/SicilianStory. Coniglio’s web page at http://bit.ly/AFCGen has helpul hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail genealogytips@aol.com.

January 7, 2016

Compra Sud — Pastosa Ravioli

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Let’s support those who keep our traditions and folkways alive

Pastosa Ravioli
7425 New Utrecht Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11204
(718) 236-9615




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.