March 31, 2016

Rocco Petrone: A Modern-Day Cathedral Builder

Rocco Petrone
By John A. Stavola
"The Invisible Pyramid" by Loren Eisely contains a chapter entitled "The Spore Bearers". In it the fungus, Pilobolus, is likened to a rocket. The spore which will project the descendants of Pilobolus into the future prepare themselves with a light sensitive capsule to aim ever toward the brightest light. When the right chemical pressures are built up the cells beneath the capsule explode, hurling it several feet away. This enables Pilobolus, which grows on the dung of cattle, to transport itself to fresh grass where they will be consumed again by the cattle.
The influential German "philosopher-poet'" Oswald Spengler's attempt to discern an organic pattern to cultural history and the zeitgeist or spirit of an age is also invoked by Eiseley.
"Perhaps what he (Spengler) terms the Faustian culture-our own-began as early as the eleventh century with the growing addiction to great unfillible cathedrals with huge naves and misty recesses where space seemed to hover without limits. In the words of one architect, the Gothic arch is 'a bow always tending to expand.' Hidden within its tensions is the upward surge of the space rocket." ( The Invisible Pyramid, pg. 84) Continue reading

Terra, Sangue, Mare Announce April Tour Dates

michelamusolino.com/shows

March 30, 2016

The Frankie Laine Story

Frankie Laine
Photo courtesy of Last.fm
By Niccolò Graffio
“All things that great men do are well done.” – H.G. Bohn; Handbook of Proverbs, 1855
I am a child of the 1970’s.  I was too young to truly enjoy the music of the ‘60’s (and all the drugs that went with it).  Instead, I was ‘lucky’ enough to go through adolescence during that most wonderful epoch of music known as the Disco Era.
Unlike many of my peers in high school, however, I carried with myself something they didn’t – an appreciation for musical genres of previous generations.  Being from a fairly tight-knit family, growing up I was regularly exposed to the music of my parents and grandmother.  As a result, I often found myself listening to songs my fellow teens mocked, if they bothered to listen to them at all!
From my paternal grandmother, a deeply religious woman, I gained an appreciation for Gregorian chants and the moving prayer songs of Southern Italy. She would sing them often while sitting on the sofa, sewing.  From my father I learned to like opera and Southern-Italian folk songs.  Being older Italian immigrants set in their ways, neither really liked listening to anything else. Continue reading

Feast of Saint Irene the Healer

Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano (c.1665)
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
March 30th is the Feast Day of Saint Irene of Rome. She was the widow of Saint Castulus, who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. She famously nursed Saint Sebastian back to health after he was left for dead, his body riddled with arrows. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Irene. The accompanying photo of Saint Sebastian Cured by Saint Irene by Luca Giordano was taken at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Prayer to Saint Irene
O Glorious Saint Irene 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

Freedom Won and Lost: The Sicilian Vespers

The Sicilian Vespers by Francesco Hayez
By Niccoló Graffio
“Freedom cannot be granted. It must be taken.”– Max Stirner:The Ego and His Own, 1845.
Americans in general today certainly take for granted the freedoms they still possess. This is not an unfair or inaccurate statement to make. How many Americans, for example, take the time out of their busy schedules watching television, surfing the Net, playing video games, “hanging out” in bars/clubs or just gaining weight to engage in such innocuous activities as educating themselves on the latest bills before their legislators? How many of them go further and contact their legislators to offer them their opinions on these bills? How many even bother to just vote on Election Day? You get the point, I’m sure. Every day things go on among our elected officials that will ultimately affect our daily lives, positively or negatively, and most seem content to remain blissfully detached from these proceedings.
One thing I’ve noticed Americans do like to do, politically speaking, is complain. Americans complain a lot! They complain at the workplace; they complain at the barber shop/hair salon; they complain at barbeques. They’ll complain anywhere they can find an ear to bend. Everyone likes to complain about politics, it seems; few are willing to do anything about it. Continue reading

March 29, 2016

John T. La Barbera and Villa Palagonia at Classic Quiche Cafè in Teaneck, New Jersey

Music Inspired by Sicily and Southern Italy
Classic Quiche Cafè
330 Queen Anne Road
Teaneck, NJ 07666

Cover: $10

Food & Drink Minimum: $10 (BYOB)

Doors open at 7:00 PM, Music at 7:30 PM

Set One: John T. La Barbera (Mandolin, Guitar, Chitarra Battente, and More!) with Jennifer Stigliani Bowen, vocals

Set Two: Villa Palagonia (Joe Ravo, Guitar & Allison Scola, Vocals & more)

Please call for reservations to secure your table: 201-692-0150

For more info visit http://villa-palagonia.com/

Via Crucis – The Way of the Cross 2016

A Look at Bensonhurst’s Traditional Good Friday Procession
A few early birds gather outside St. Bernadette's
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Thousands marched through the streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, this Good Friday (March 25th) in the annual Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, candlelight procession commemorating the Passion of Christ. Led by The Most Reverend Bishop Paul Sanchez, members of several Italian American societies and congregations participated, including Saint Athanasius, Saint Dominic, Regina Pacis, Saints Simon and Jude, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Finbar, Saint Mary Mother of Jesus, Saint Bernadette and Saint Frances Cabrini.
Carrying banners, crosses, and statues of the Madonna Addolorata and the Dead Christ, devotees recited prayers and sang hymns during the nearly two-hour-long procession. Fortunately, we were blessed with terrific weather.
Rotating between the churches, this year Saint Mary Mother of Jesus had the honor of hosting the Benediction and prayer service. Bishop Sanchez concluded the outdoor ceremony in English and Italian with a solemn blessing with the Relic of the True Cross.
Before leaving, flowers from the statues were distributed among the women and children. We said our goodbyes and boarded our charted bus back to our parish.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to the organizers for a job well done. Special thanks to John Cordi and the Holy Name Society of Saint Bernadette for their hard work and dedication. As always, it was an honor to march with them.
Christ the Redeemer adorned with flowers
The Madonna Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows)
The Knights of Columbus served as Honor Guard
Devotees carry the statue of the Dead Christ through the neighborhood
Not far behind the Dead Christ, participants carry Our Lady of Sorrows
Members of the Italian-American Apostolate of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus Parish
Members of the Holy Name Society of Saint Bernadette
Members of St. Dominic's Church
Members of the St. Frances Cabrini Society of Brooklyn
Members of Gruppo Italiano Sant'Atanasio (G.I.S.A.)
Members of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Members of Santa Rosalia Regina Pacis
Red Mike Festival Band
Thousands gather outside St. Mary Mother of Jesus Church for the prayer service
Teaching the young our faith and traditions
Venerating our Lord and Savior

Grazie Easter Bunny!

The Easter Bunny must love me, he brought me Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, the debut CD Rhythms & Roots by Villa Palagonia (featuring Joe Ravo & Allison Scola), a Napoli fridge magnet, & Strega torrone!

March 28, 2016

Pasquetta – Little Easter 2016

In commemoration of the risen Christ's meeting (and subsequent dinner) with his disciples on the road to Emmaus, a small town outside Jerusalem, southern Italians celebrate Pasquetta, or Little Easter. Traditionally, family and friends would pack a lunch and take a short trip to the shore or countryside in remembrance of Christ’s journey. Because Easter Monday is not a national holiday here in the States and people have to work, its not always easy to organize a group outing. Nonetheless, I still try to keep the tradition whenever possible, even if it is by myself. Not letting the dreary weather deter me, I filled my picnic basket with a few Easter leftovers, some light reading material, and my sketchpad (in case inspiration strikes), and headed off to a dry, peaceful location to reflect on my many, many blessings. Buona Pasquetta!
Also see:
Pasquetta – Little Easter 2015
Pasquetta – Little Easter 2014

The 'Ndrezzata

By Giovanni di Napoli
At the northern periphery of the Gulf of Naples lies the enchanting Island of Ischia. Steeped in history and legend, this jewel of the Tyrrhenian is the birthplace of the 'Ndrezzata, a traditional folk dance whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Twirling with increasing speed, armed participants strike and parry with wooden swords and mazzarelli (cudgels) in a dance, some say, symbolizes the war between the sexes (or nymphs and satyrs). Depending on whom you ask, there are any one of a number of stories offering an explanation.
According to one legend the 'Ndrezzata was taught to local villagers by the island's nymphs. It was supposed to remind them of happier days when the spirits of the wood gaily danced to the celestial sounds of Apollo's golden lyre. During the sybaritic festivities the sun god fell in love with the beautiful nymph, Coronis, and the two conceived a child, Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. Blessed, the island became famous for its therapeutic qualities. Continue reading

March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Detail of the Resurrection by Arturo DiModica
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all our readers a very Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! In celebration I'm posting The Tomb, a traditional Sicilian prayer reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 94-95. The accompanying photos of the Resurrection by esteemed Sicilian-American sculptor Arturo DiModica were taken at the Italian American Museum in 2010.
The Tomb
Holy tomb, which often has been visited
With blood you have been made clean
For two days you were washed
So us sinners you could redeem.

O Sipurcu
O Sipurcu visitatu
chi di sangu fustu lavatu
fustu lavatu pi quarantottu uri
pi nuiautri peccaturi.

Resurrection
Addendum: Typical southern Italian Easter desserts include La Pastiera Napoletana, or Pizza Gran; Pizza Chiena, or Pizza Rustica; and Cuzzupe di Pasqua, a delicious Calabrese bread with hard-boiled eggs baked in it.
La pastiera Napoletana
Pizza Chiena
Cazzupe di Pasqua

Photo of the Week: Cristo Redentore di Maratea

Christ the Redeemer of Maratea on top of Monte San Biagio, Potenza, Basilicata. Standing 72 feet high, the Redeemer is one of the largest statues in Europe. Designed by Bruno Innocenti (1906-1996), it was completed in 1965.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Giordano

March 26, 2016

Holy Thursday Church Visitation and The Altar of Repose

The Altar of Repose inside the Shrine Church of St. Bernadette
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

After Holy Thursday’s evening Mass at the Shrine Church of Saint Bernadette in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, I joined some friends on their annual pilgrimage to venerate the Blessed Sacrament at Saint Francis Cabrini Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and Saint Finbar Church in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. 
Growing up, Church Visitation was not part of my family’s Holy Thursday tradition, but it remains a fairly common custom among practicing Italian Catholics. Needless to say, I was honored to be invited and jumped at the opportunity to partake in the edifying ritual.
Each church had its own beautifully decorated Altar of Repose, which in southern Italy represents the Holy Sepulcher, or Christ’s tomb. At each one, we made a donation, lit a few candles and said our prayers. In keeping with tradition, my friends also made offerings of potted wheat sprouts grown in the dark. Called sepulcru, the pallid plants symbolize life born in darkness and the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.
I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate and experience something new. I look forward to doing it again next year and making the rite part of my own tradition.
The Altar of Repose inside St. Francis Cabrini Church
Pietà inside St. Francis Cabrini Church
The Altar of Repose inside St. Finbar

Announcing Boston's 111th Annual Feast in Honor of Santa Maria Di Anzano

www.anzanoboston.com

March 25, 2016

Venerdì Santo (Good Friday)

Ecce Homo by Antonello da Messina (Sicilian, c. 1425—1479)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a Blessed Good Friday. In commemoration, I’m posting a prayer as well as several photos of southern Italian artwork depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ.
Good Friday Prayer
O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us hast willed to be crucified and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us here gathered together in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death, fully trusting in Thy mercy; cleanse us from sin by Thy grace, sanctify our toil, give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our daily bread, sweeten our sufferings, bless our families, and to the nations so sorely afflicted, grant Thy peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Thy commandments we may come at last to the glory of heaven. Amen.
Pilate Washing His Hands by Mattia Preti (Calabrese, 1613—1699)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Terracotta Stations of the Cross in Savoca, Sicily
(L-R) Saint Veronica offers her veil to Jesus and Fallen Jesus
Stabat Mater, painted ceramic tiles in Vietri sul Mare
The Lamentation of Saints John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene by Roberto d'Oderisio (Neapolitan, active 1340—1382), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Madonna Addolorata and the Dead Christ, Duomo di Ravello
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Niccoló Graffio

A Nightmare on Greene Street

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Scene at the morgue
By Niccoló Graffio
Sitting there in the motorman’s class, I listened intently to the instructor as he attempted to impress upon us the importance of safety in the workplace. Picking up a soft cover book about the size of a notebook, he waved it in front of the class, trying to garner the attention of the know-it-alls who invariably find such lectures boring.
“This is a copy of New York City Transit’s code of safety rules.” he loudly announced. “We have a saying about this book: ‘This is a book written in blood!’ When I first came on this job, this book had only four pages. As you can see, this book is now a lot thicker. Every time someone was killed on this job, another page was added to this book.” Suddenly he had everyone’s attention. His grim meaning was abundantly clear to all: the job of transit worker is not an easy one. In fact, it’s a very dangerous one! Continue reading