October 31, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy

After Mass, celebrants pose for a group photo
Photos courtesy of John Cordi and Patrizia Esposito
Friday night, my friends and I joined scores of pilgrims at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy to celebrate Solemn High Mass for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. Possibly, not since 1969 has Latin Mass been celebrated at Most Precious Blood, but amazingly there have been three well attended masses in the last few weeks at the church.*
Mass was sung by celebrant and homilist Fr. Richard Cipolla, Pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was assisted by deacon Fr. Robert Rodriguez, subdeacon Mr. James Barrett and several dutiful altar servers. Cavalieri John Napoli, Charles Sant’Elia and Vice Chancellor Patrick O’Boyle of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George served as Knights in Attendance.
God bless the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, especially Stuart and Jill Chessman, for sponsoring the Mass and their tireless efforts to promote Traditional Latin Mass. Evviva Santi Simone e Giuda!
* In addition to Saints. Simon and Jude, Latin Mass was celebrated at Most Precious Blood Church for the Feast of San Gennaro on Sept. 24th and for the Feast of San Michele Arcangelo on Sept. 29th.
Cav. John Napoli venerating San Vincenzo Martire di Craco
Cavalieri Charles Sant'Elia and Napoli unfurl the flag of
the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies before San Gennaro
Members of the San Rocco Society of Potenza gather around their beloved patron
Also see:
Most Precious Blood Church: An Appreciation
Keeping a Vow: Celebrating the Feast of St. Michael at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy
Celebrating the Traditional Votive Mass of San Gennaro at Most Precious Blood Church in NYC

Photo of the Week: A Fragment of a Terracotta Gorgon Head

Terracotta Gorgon head at the Paestum National Archaeological Museum
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

October 30, 2016

Feast of Blessed Angelo d'Acri

Viva il Beato Angelo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
October 30th is the Feast Day of Blessed Angelo d'Acri, patron of Acri, a commune in the Province of Cosenza, Calabria. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a prayer to Blessed Angelo of Acri. The accompanying photo was taken during the 2015 Feast at Most Precious Blood Church (109 Mulberry Street), the national shrine of San Gennaro, located in New York City's historic Little Italy.
Prayer to Blessed Angelo
O God, you gave to your priest blessed Angelo the grace to call sinners to penance through his words and miracles, grant through his intercession, that we may be sorry for our sins, and gain eternal life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen

Julia Patella to Perform Sicilian Music at the Marillac Auditorium at St. John's University

October 29, 2016

Patrizio Buanne Brings Down the House at the Highline Ballroom in New York City

Patrizio Buanne at the Highline Ballroom
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Patrizio Buanne triumphantly returned to New York City last Saturday (Oct. 22nd) with a spectacular performance at the Highline Ballroom. Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his first PBS sell out tour, the show was the culmination of the North American leg of his 5th World Tour. 
As the usher brought us to our private booth, I could definitely sense we were in for something special. The capacity crowd of about 500 (mostly swooning female) fans was buzzing with excitement in anticipation for the great Neapolitan pop crooner. 
The multiplatinum recording artist is used to filling arenas around the world, so by his standards this was a small venue. While there is certainly something epic about large stadium concerts, I always preferred the intimacy of smaller shows. In addition to generally sounding better, there is an undeniable energy shared between the audience and artists.
Taking the stage to thunderous applause, Patrizio kicked off with a rollicking cover of Renato Carasone’s 1956 classic, Americano (Tu vuo’ fa l’ Americano). Putting in solid performances of many of his greatest hits, as well as songs from his latest album "Viva La Dolce Vita," his setlist included Parla piu piano, Luna Mezz ‘O Mare, Charlie Chaplin's Smile and, of course, his showstopper Il Mondo.
Between songs, Patrizio made us laugh with amusing quips and funny anecdotes. While talking about Engelbert Humperdink, Tom Jones and other childhood influences, he did some spot on impersonations of Axl Rose, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and “The King,” Elvis Presley. He capped off his tribute to Italian American singers (Tony Bennet, Connie Francis, etc.) with Shake the Spaghetti, a jocose ditty he wrote when he was only seventeen-years-old.
Clearly proud of his southern Italian roots, Patrizio spoke glowingly about the pre-unification Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the everlasting pride and joy of southern Italians everywhere. For his encore, the Neapolitan even wore his patented Salvatore Argenio masterpiece, a custom made silk shirt emblazoned with the coat-of-arms of the Royal House of BourbonTwo Sicilies. 
To the delight of his adoring fans, Patrizio promised to sign autographs and take pictures with anyone who wanted to meet him after the show. True to his word, the artist came out and met with a legion of admirers, thanking each and every one. Considering they are mostly attractive, gushing women, this may not be as laborious as it seems. "It's a hard job," joked the singer, "but somebody has to do it."

Patrizio is the quintessential professional, a talented entertainer and a true gentleman. I had a fantastic time and look forward to his return. 
Patrizio performed many fan favorites
Halfway through the show, special guest and longtime friend Karen King joined Patrizio on stage with her band for a duet and a few songs
Tickling the ivories: In addition to being an accomplished singer, the multitalented artist jumped on the keyboard and played guitar for a few songs
Wailing on the guitar
Always the romantic, the dashing Neapolitan offers a kiss on the hand and roses to several lucky ladies without ever missing a beat
Patrizio literally wears his heart on his sleeve
A couple of very happy fans show off their southern Italian pride
After the show, Patrizio meets with his many admirers 
There is no doubt where Patrizio's loyalties lie
Also see:
Neapolitan Multiplatinum Recording Artist Patrizio Buanne Honored in New York City
Patrizio Buanne 2016 USA Tour
Patrizio Buanne Announces US Tour Dates

October 28, 2016

The Lioness of the South: Michelina De Cesare

Michelina De Cesare
Oct. 28, 1841 — Aug. 30, 1868
By Giovanni di Napoli
On March 17, 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was born. The events that led to its birth are many but most are hidden behind the myths of theRisorgimento, a romanticized, but false, version of Italian unity. Portraying themselves as liberators, the House of Savoy effectively annexed and colonized the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and Papal States. It didn't take long after unification that the lies and false promises of the Northern conquerors become apparent. The new rulers not only continued the unjust policies they promised to eliminate but in many cases they exacerbated them.

Betrayed and desperate, the people of the South rebelled against the Piedmontese and their collaborators. For well over a decade the Northern invaders waged a bloody war of repression against the Southern insurrection, deceitfully referred to as "the war against brigandage." The occupational forces committed many atrocities against the so-called "brigands," perhaps the most famous of which were the Pontelandolfo and Casalduni massacres. The Southerners retaliated by exacting retribution whenever possible. At its peak, over 100,000 soldiers were needed to suppress the revolt. Tribunals, roundups, deportations and summary executions were an integral part of Italian nation building. Continue reading

Believing the Impossible: Neapolitan Identity and the Cult of San Gennaro

Dr. Ilaria Poerio
The Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute is pleased to present Believing the Impossible: Neapolitan Identity and the Cult of San Gennaro

Dr. Ilaria Poerio—University of Reading, UK Alberto Institute Visiting Scholar

San Gennaro – patron saint of the city of Naples, who for seventeen centuries has been venerated above all for the alleged miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood – isn't just any saint. The saint and the city he protects have become two sides of the same coin: a "human" unpredictable saint for a shaky city dominated by Vesuvius volcano - eternal threat and constant memento of the shortness of life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 @ 6:00 p.m.

Beck Rooms—University Library, Lower Level
Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ 07079

R.S.V.P. to barbara.ritchie@shu.edu or (973) 275-2967.

Villa Palagonia at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3

Villa Palagonia are Allison Scola and Joe Ravo
Wednesday, November 2 @ 7pm–8pm

Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3
185 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

$10 Cover
2 drink minimum at tables


October 27, 2016

Viva San Vincenzo! A Look at the 115th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City

Viva San Vincenzo Martire!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
About 60 members and friends of the Craco Society made the trek to Little Italy Sunday, October 23rd for the 115th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City. This year, the society unveiled a new memorial plaque on the side of the wooden case bearing the reclining statue and first-class relic of the saint. Mass was celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Grieco and Rev. Fr. Nicholas Mormando, both of Cracotan descent. As always, Cantor Susan Mello was superb. 
Afterward, celebrants adjourned to nearby Forlini’s Restaurant for a delightful luncheon with plenty of food, drink and lighthearted merriment. For me, the highlight of the meal was, of course, Salvatore Francavilla’s spectacular homemade limoncello
I want to thank Fred Spero, Stephen La Rocca and all the members of the Craco Society who worked so hard to make this year’s celebration a huge success. Touched by your seemingly inexhaustible warmth and generosity, it truly is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this glorious tradition. Viva San Vincenzo!
The new memorial plaque 
(Left) The antique banner has been mended and will be stored in an acid-free preservation box for posterity. (Right) Offerings are pinned on to the statue 
Devotees pin donations on to the 1930s era statue of San Vincenzo
After Mass, our friends Fred Spero and Fr. Nicholas Mormando
present the relic of San Vincenzo Martire for veneration
Another look at the 1901 statue of San Vincenzo
Partygoers pack into Forlini's Restaurant for the celebratory meal
Msgr. Grieco says grace before lunch
(Left) During the festivities, Robert Rubertone delivers his welcome address. (Right) Our pal Salvatore Francavilla with a handful of diavolicchio
For those of us who like our food spicy,
Stephen La Rocca shared some of his homegrown hot peppers
Three stalks of wheat, the symbol of Craco, were given to attendees

A Night of Culture, Music and History with the Connecticut Italian Teachers Association

October 26, 2016

Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider

(L-R) Cav. Vito Totino, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Cavalieri John Napoli, Thomas Portelli, Vincent Gangone, Anthony O’Boyle and Charles Sant’Elia, Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George
Monday, October 24, New York City — My confratelli and I had the great privilege of serving as honor guard for the Pontifical Solemn Mass at the faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan at Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan. Coordinated by the Emperor Karl League of Prayers and several Traditional Knights of Columbus councils, Bishop Schneider will complete his visit of the Northeast with an evening lecture and Solemn Pontifical Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville, Ohio on Thursday, October 27th at 10:00AM.
(Above and below) Pontifical Solemn Mass at the faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

October 25, 2016

Black Tie, White Cross

Knights of Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George Attend New York City's White Cross Ball
Cavalieri Charles Sant'Elia, Anthony O'Boyle and Count Justin Morin-Carpentier 
Photo courtesy of Anthony Schembri
Friday, October 21, New York City — My confratelli Cavalieri Charles Sant'Elia, Anthony O'Boyle, Anthony Schembri, Count Justin Morin-Carpentier and Dama Margaret Maledy of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George joined the Young Knights and Dames of the NYC Junior Committee of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for the 2nd Annual White Cross Ball. Benefitting the works of the Order in service to the sick and the poor, hundreds of young Knights, Dames and their special guests were in attendance. Held at New York City’s historic Metropolitan Club, partygoers enjoyed a lavish dinner before convening to the dance floor for cocktails, hobnobbing and, of course, dancing. Bravo Cav. Michael Espiritu and all the organizers for your hard work and dedication, the White Cross Ball is quickly establishing itself as one of New York City’s premier fundraising events of the year.

The Lessons of Abu Tabela

Paolo di Avitabile
Oct. 25, 1791—March 28, 1850
By Lucian
Paolo di Avitabile was born in Agerola, near Amalfi. He was a Neapolitan soldier who reached the rank of Lieutenant and was recommended for promotion and decoration by General Delaver after displaying great courage and being wounded twice during the siege of Gaeta. Unfortunately, in his case, the General was ignored and Avitabile was instead transferred to a light infantry division under the same rank. He resigned in disgust at his treatment, but went on to become a successful mercenary in the east, and eventually became the governor of Wazirabad and then Peshawar. He was also a scholar and engineer, and worked closely with Lehna Singh Majithia, the renowned Sikh engineer. After his adventurous career he returned with his fortune to his homeland in Naples, where he married a local girl but then died under suspicious circumstances.
Although Avitabile was interesting and successful, you may be wondering why he is special enough to be remembered as a significant figure in Southern Italian history, especially since he became a mercenary and political figure outside of his European homeland. The answer is because Paolo di Avitabile was also known as the legendary figure Abu Tabela. Continue reading

October 24, 2016

Feast of San Raffaele Arcangelo

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
October 24th is the Feast Day of San Raffaele Arcangelo (St. Raphael the Archangel), patron of travelers, happy meetings, matchmakers, healers and the blind. In celebration I’m posting a prayer to St. Raphael. The accompanying photo of Tobias and the Angel (c. 1622) by Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, better known as Battistello, was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Prayer to St. Raphael the Archangel
O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.
Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.
Remember the weak, you who are strong—you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

Photo of the Week: The Relic of San Vincenzo Martire in Craco

Grazie mille Karen Haid for sharing your wonderful photo of the relic of San Vincenzo Martire in Craco, Basilicata. Exhumed from the cemetery of St. Ciriaca in Rome, the waxen body and “flask of blood" of the Martyr was installed in the St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Friary in Craco on April 4, 1793. The relic was relocated in the late 1980's when structural instability required it to be moved to its current home, a small chapel in the Sant'Angelo section of Craco.

October 23, 2016

Feast of San Vincenzo Martire

Viva San Vincenzo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The fourth Sunday of October is the Feast Day of San Vincenzo Martire, patron Saint of Craco, Lucania. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Vincent. (*) The accompanying photo was taken during the 2012 Feast of San Vincenzo Martire at now closed Saint Joseph's Church (5 Monroe Street) in Manhattan, the national shrine of San Vincenzo. For more on Saint Vincent's Feast Day please visit the Craco Society and the San Fele Society.

Prayer to St. Vincent
Patron of Craco, Lucania

O strong and glorious St. Vincent,
our distinguished patron, who
had the honor of giving your life
for loyal testimony to Jesus Christ,
turn your loving gaze on us
who by wise design of
providence, are, the unworthy,
fortunate guardians of your relics.

Teach us, oh, generous Martyr,
the tenacity to do good
in the way in which you serve as model,
having preserved good intentions
even when you were violently
torn from the quiet life of our family.

Communicate with our souls
a little of the great love
which you showed
evidence of in your lifetime.
Pray to the Lord Jesus
that because the generosity of
your love of the Cross, that our hearts will be
evermore enkindled.
Present to Jesus, sweet friend
of our souls and crown of Martyrs our
earnest desire to support
courageously, like you,
every suffering of our lives, Amen

(*) A Prayer to St. Vincent courtesy of the San Felese Society

Feast of San Giovanni da Capestrano

Viva San Giovanni!
October 23rd is the Feast Day of San Giovanni da Capestrano, patron Saint of military chaplains and jurists. He is also the protector of Capestrano, a commune in the Province of L'Aquila (Abruzzo), where he was born in 1386. 
San Giovanni is revered as the "soldier saint" for his role in the valiant defense of Belgrade against the Ottoman Turks in 1456. With his fiery sermons, he helped raise a peasant army and assisted John Hunyadi, the heroic White Knight of Wallachia, in breaking the siege and routing the invaders. 
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer in honor of St. John of Capistrano. The accompanying photo comes courtesy of Tea at Trianon.
Prayer to St. John of Capistrano
Lord, you raised up Saint John of Capistrano to give your people comfort in their trials. May your Church enjoy unending peace and be secure in your protection. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The Emperor of Philadelphia

No man in the history of the City of Philadelphia was more loved, hated, admired, feared and despised than Mayor Francis L. Rizzo, Sr.
Monument to Mayor Frank Rizzo
By Niccolò Graffio
“The streets of Philadelphia are safe.  It’s only the people who make them unsafe.” – Frank. L. Rizzo
“The City of Brotherly Love” began as a settlement founded by William Penn in 1682.  The previous year, Penn had received a charter from King Charles II of England to establish what would eventually become the Pennsylvania Colony.  Penn, a Quaker, had experienced religious persecution in England and was desirous of founding a colony in the New World where there would be absolute freedom of worship.  His “Holy Experiment” included the building of a city this farsighted soul believed would one day form, as he put it, “…the seed of a nation.”
The City of Philadelphia was officially established by Penn with the Charter of 1701. Penn derived the name of the city from the Greek philos (“love” or “friendship”) and adelphos ('brother"). At this time the city’s inhabitants were mostly settlers from the British Isles, as well as some Germans, Finns, Dutch and slaves from Africa. True to Penn’s vision, many religious minorities settled the area. In addition to Quakers, Mennonites, Catholics, Pietists and even some Jews helped to build the early city. As it grew, Philadelphia began to emerge as an important regional commercial center, facilitating trade between the Caribbean and British colonies in the northeast. Continue reading

October 22, 2016

Most Precious Blood Church: An Appreciation

Collection of relics in the sacristy
By Giovanni di Napoli
Since the closing of St. Joseph’s Church (5 Monroe St.) and the moving of St. Rocco to Most Precious Blood Church (113 Baxter St.) in Little Italy, I’ve developed a pleasant rapport with parish staff and clergy, as well as an affinity to the storied church and it’s enviable collection of southern Italian religious art. Nineteen paintings by Avellinese artist Donatus Buongiorno (1865-1935), a replica bust of San Gennaro, a reclining statue of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco, and a phenomenal papier-mâché statue of San Rocco di Potenza (not to mention the one of a kind Neapolitan presepio) are among the many treasures on display.
Perhaps more impressive than the artwork, the church also possesses a number of first-class relics. In addition to a splinter of the True Cross they have bone fragments of San Gennaro, Sant’Antonio di Padova, San Francesco d’Assisi, San Vincenzo Martire and St. Jude Thaddeus. Safely tucked away in the sacristy, I was given access last Friday (while Dr. Andrea Bartoli and members of the Comunità di Sant'Egidio were setting up for their weekly evening prayer meeting) by Most Precious Blood Church Project Manager Bill Russo for a unique opportunity to venerate the relics.  
Relic of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco
Completely unexpected, I jumped at the chance to profess my faith and commune with the saints. Praying for my ancestors, I kissed (and wiped with my handkerchief) each reliquary. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I finished up quickly, but not without taking a few quick photographs for posterity. It goes without saying I was completely awed by the whole experience. 
Personally, Most Precious Blood Church has been a godsend. Along with being the longtime home to the Feasts of San Gennaro, Sant’ Antonio di Padova, Blessed Angelo d’Acri, and Saints Cosma and Damiano, it has recently taken in the Feasts of San Rocco and San Vincenzo Martire. When others were unwilling, or unable, it gave a home to the beautiful statue of the Madonna delle Grazie, patroness of Santa Caterina Villarmosa, Sicily and the icon of the Madonna di Ripalta, patroness of Cerignola, Apulia. 

Thanks to its late hours, the church has also given my confratelli and I a place to come together after work to pray, meditate and light votive candles. What's more, it let me fulfill my vow and sponsor a Traditional Latin Mass in honor of San Michele Arcangelo.
I pray others in our community recognize and appreciate the importance of this church and support its many efforts to promote our faith and culture. On top of the regularly scheduled events, plans to celebrate Saints Simon and Jude, Santa Lucia, San Francesco di Paola, San Calogero, Santa Cecilia, and others, are in the works, so there will be no shortage of opportunities to do so.
(L) Relic of the True Cross. (R) Relic of San Francesco d'Assisi
(L) Relic of Sant'Antonio di Padova. (R) Relic of San Gennaro
Also see:
Celebrating the Feast of Santa Teresa d’Ávila and the 99th Anniversary of Fátima
Celebrating the Feast of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Celebrating the Feasts of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Madonna di Ripalta in NYC