April 30, 2016

Feast of the Madonna Incoronata

Viva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
The last Saturday of April is the Feast of the Madonna Incoronata (Our Lady Crowned), an ancient tradition dating back to the beginning of the 11th Century A.D. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting Praise to the Queen of Heaven (Salvi Rigina), a traditional Marian prayer from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.(1) The accompanying photo was taken at St. Rocco's Church in Glen Cove, New York.
According to legend, the Count of Ariano got lost while hunting in the forest near the River Cervaro in Foggia, Puglia. He took refuge in a nearby cottage when the woods turned unusually dark. At dawn the Count noticed a bright light shining through the trees. Drawn to the mysterious radiance, a vision of the Madonna appeared before him. Wearing a magnificent crown and levitating above a large oak tree the Blessed Mother revealed a statue of the Black Madonna perched in the branches. Awestricken, the Count promised to build a chapel to house her miraculous icon.
Soon after, a shepherd named Strazzacappa, who was grazing his oxen close by, was also drawn to the light. Immediately recognizing the vision as the Blessed Mother, the humble herdsman set up a makeshift votive lamp with his caldarella beneath the tree in her honor. It is said that the oil was not consumed by the flame.
The Count fulfilled his vow and news of the miracle spread far and wide. The shrine quickly became a popular destination for devotees and those making the pilgrimage to the nearby Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael at Monte Sant'Angelo in the Gargano peninsula. Today, after several renovations, the Basilica Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata is a major religious center visited by thousands annually. The Black Madonna and a branch from the oak are still on display.
Praise to the Queen of Heaven

Hail to you Mary, Mother of Mercy
Life, sweetness, and spring of joy
In you we trust when in trouble or pain
To you we come when we are in tears
In affliction your comfort we obtain.

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

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

Congratulations F.C. Crotone!

Photo courtesy of www.fccrotone.it
F.C. Crotone secured promotion to Serie A for the first time in its history Friday, drawing 1-1 at Modena. The Sharks (I Squali) are only the third club from Calabria to reach Italy's top flight. We wish them all the best and much success. Forza Crotone! 

April 28, 2016

Compra Sud — Peppino's Pizzeria Restaurant

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

Peppino's Pizzeria Restaurant
7708 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209


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.

Announcing the 90th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy, New York City


April 27, 2016

Evviva Maria! A Look at the 2016 Feast of the Madonna Della Misericordia in Brooklyn, New York

Evviva Maria!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
The sons and daughters of Fontanarosa gathered at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sunday to celebrate their patronal Feast of Maria SS. della Misericordia, or Our Lady of Mercy. Mass was celebrated in English and Italian with Msgr. Joseph Calise, who spoke at length about Pope Francis' Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and the importance of forgiveness.
After Mass, Our Lady was brought out to the expectant crowd with much fanfare. The statue was placed on a float and accompanied by a group of adorable children dressed as angels and Papal guards. Blessed with terrific weather, the procession sauntered through the neighborhood, stopping on occasion so parishioners could offer donations.
The festivities continued back in the church gymnasium, where we were treated to a magnificent luncheon with all our favorite southern Italian delicacies, including trippa alla napoletana and involtini di melanzane. In addition to the delicious food, partygoers enjoyed plenty of music, dancing and good company. The evening ended with a raffle drawing full of wonderful prizes.
I want to thank President Joe DiTalia and all the members of the Società di Maria SS. della Misericordia for their hard work and dedication to our community. Special thanks to Buffy Cipriano and her beautiful family for their warmth and hospitality. As always, they went above and beyond to make me feel welcome, and to my great surprise (and pleasure) they made me an honorary member of the society. I look forward to celebrating with them again next year. Evviva Maria!
The color guard were all smiles
During Mass, devotees present the crowns for the coronation
Msgr. Joseph Calise crowns the Madonna and Child with the triple diadem
After Mass, young men carry the statue to the float
Devotees pin donations on to the ribbons
At the head of the procession, young ladies carry the society banner
Members rally around the standard
President Joe DiTalia with members of the Board of Directors
The procession makes its way through the neighborhood
(Above & below) Young ladies collect donations & hand out prayer cards
Anthony's Italian American Marching Band
The procession returns to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
As always, the organizers did a fantastic job
The Papal Guard stood watch as the Blessed Mother was returned to the church
(Above & below) Revelers danced the tarantella
Guests enjoyed a sumptuous repast
Also see:
A Look at the 2015 Feast of Maria SS. Della Misericordia in Brooklyn, New York

April 26, 2016

"L'Ultima Tonnara-Mattanza" (The Last Tuna Massacre) at the Italian American Museum

A film by Prof. Emeritus Philip Singer
Mattanza fishermen landing giant bluefin tuna – Favignana, Italy
Thursday, April 28th, 6:30 P.M.
You are cordially invited to attend a screening of Dr. Philip Singer's award-winning documentary film entitled, "L'Ultima Tonnara-Mattanza (The Last Tuna Massacre)" at the Italian American Museum on Thursday evening, April 28th.
Dr. Singer will present a 23-minute edited DVD version of the two-hour documentary as well as excerpts from the larger DVD. The documentary is based on the 1966 tuna catch season in Favignana, an island off the coast of Sicily.  For each of the 22 days of preparation leading to the Mattanza there are 63 men from the village of Favignana, Sicily participating. The tuna are captured during Spring migration in a series of underseas nets that are slowly raised to the surface where they are gaffed and hauled aboard a boat. The film was awarded the Premio Pitre of the international study of anthropology - Giuseppe Pitre-Salvatore Salamone - Citta di Palermo.
For thousands of years, people living around the Mediterranean have fished for the giant bluefin tuna.
Because of over fishing by commercial boats, including Japanese, who consume about four-fifths of the world's bluefin tuna, extinction is a real possibility. Blame for the crisis is global. The fatty flesh is prized by Japanese for sushi.
As the bluefin tuna population has plummeted, the Favignana Mattanza ceased a few years after Dr. Singer's documentary.  An effort was made by a Rome marketing executive to costume the fishermen in uniform and reenact the Mattanza to attract tourists. The fishermen were not enthusiastic and have sought work off the island in industrial employment in Italian cities.
About the Presenter: 
Professor Emeritus Philip Singer, is a 91-year-old anthropologist filmmaker who has directed and produced over 60 documentaries around the world. His work has been reviewed in anthropological journals. His most recent documentary (2015) is titled, The Final Participant Observation -- Cultural Anthropologists Confront Their Own Aging and Mortality.
Light Refreshments Will Be Served
Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
(Corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10013 

Suggested donation of $10 per person
For reservations, please call the Italian American Museum at 212-965-9000 or Email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

Announcing the 2016 Ferragosto in The Bronx


April 25, 2016

Feast of the Madonna delle Armi

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

Feast of San Marco Evangelista

Viva San Marco!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 25th is the Feast Day of San Marco Evangelista (St. Mark the evangelist), patron saint of notaries. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal protector of San Marco Evangelista (CE), San Marco Argentano (CS), Futani (SA), San Marco in Lamis (FG), Rionero in Vulture (PZ), and Pacentro (AQ), among others. In commemoration, I'm posting a prayer in honor of Saint Mark. The accompanying photo of San Marco was taken at the Basilica Santa Trofimena in Minori. 
Prayer to Saint Mark
O Glorious St. Mark, through the grace of God our Father, you became a great Evangelist, preaching the Good News of Christ. May you help us to know Him well so that we may faithfully live our lives as followers of Christ. Amen.

April 24, 2016

Photo of the Week: Romanesque Bell Tower of the Duomo di Salerno

Grazie mille Andrew Giordano for sharing your wonderful photo of the 12th century bell tower of the Cattedrale di Salerno (Cathedral of San Matteo)

Announcing the 2016 Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

April 23, 2016

Feast of San Giorgio

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

April 22, 2016

Ponderable Quote From "The History of the Italian Revolution, First Period: The Revolution of the Barricades (1796-1849)" by Patrick Keyes O'Clery

The Revolution, once triumphant in France, its leaders resolved to force it upon all Europe. They wished to repeat the triumph of Islam, and spread their new doctrines by the sword. First Belgium was over-run, revolutionized and plundered. Then almost simultaneously they poured into Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. To the Italian people they proclaimed that they had come as deliverers, to restore them their freedom. Piedmont was conquered, the Austrians were driven from the north, Genoa and Venice saw their ancient republics destroyed, the Pope was deprived of the Legations, and subjected to a fine of thirty million francs, with the object of embarrassing the temporal government. Every gallery of art in Italy was plundered for the museums of Paris, war contributions were levied on all sides; while Jacobin apostles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity organized the short-lived Ligurian, Cis-Alpine, Etrurian, and Parthenopean Republics. Yet it is quite certain that all this was accomplished by French generals and French political agents, without consent and against the will of the Italian people. The Revolutionists of Italy were a mere handful, compared to the whole nation.
* The History of the Italian Revolution, First Period: The Revolution of the Barricades (1796-1849) by Patrick Keyes O'Clery, Andesite Press, 2015, p. 74-75 [Originally published London: R. Washbourne, 1875]

April 21, 2016

Titan of the South: Francesco de Mura

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

April 20, 2016

Most Precious Blood Church Heritage Profile: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Maria SS. del Carmine 
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
at Most Precious Blood Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Frank Tamburello

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a name associated with devotion to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus of Nazareth. Her veneration under this title is very widespread among the Italians of Southern Italy and Sicily. Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel was brought by Italian immigrants to the United States. Many churches are dedicated to her honor, and there is hardly an Italian Catholic church that does not bear her image. 
History of Our Lady of Mount Carmel 
Tradition suggests that a community of Jewish hermits lived at the top of Mount Carmel near Haifa in Israel, from the time of the Prophet Elijah (Elias) who according to the Scriptures, lived in a cave there. In the thirteenth century, the Christian order of the Carmelites was founded on Mount Carmel (although legend has it that the Prophet Elijah himself founded the order). The Prophet Elijah is considered the Patron Saint of the Carmelites, and a statue of Elijah defeating the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18) was erected near the monastery. Another tradition states that the order was founded by San Bertoldo of Calabria. 
Prefixed to the Carmelite Constitution of 1281 was the claim that from the time when Elijah and Elisha had dwelt devoutly on Mount Carmel, priests and prophets, both Jewish and Christian, had lived praiseworthy lives in holy penitence adjacent to the site of the fountain of Elisha, in an uninterrupted succession. 
Various problems with the invading Muslims made the Carmelite brothers unable to live on Mt. Carmel in prayerful solitude. From about 1238, they began to move to Europe. Some went to Sicily, some to Naples. St. Louis, King of France, a Crusader, welcomed the Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to his country. In 1242 the Carmelites arrived in England under the sponsorship of Richard De Grey and Richard of Cornwall. 
The Origin of the Scapular 
On July 16, 1251, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to an English Carmelite monk Simon Stock, and gave him the brown garment known today as the scapular, which has become associated with the Carmelite order. 
Byzantine Tradition 
The Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, venerated at the monastery in Israel, was brought to Naples and enshrined in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine by the Carmelites who left the mountain. This icon is called in Italian “La Bruna” (the Dark One) because the smoke from years of devotional candles and incense darkened the features of the Madonna and Child. Thousands of Italian emigrants made vows to the Virgin of Mount Carmel to ensure safe passage from the Port of Naples to the New World at this basilica. 
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York 
Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem
The Southern Italian immigrants, brought their devotion to the Virgin of Mount Carmel with them to the New World, especially to New York, where many of them contributed to the building of a shrine in her honor. In 1881 a beautiful church was dedicated to her on 115th St. in East Harlem, together with a traditional statue of the Madonna made in Italy and donated by a devotee from Salerno. 
Papal Coronation 
In 1904, Pope St. Pius X conferred the special privilege of solemn papal coronation upon the miraculous image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a rare privilege granted only three times before in North America: Guadalupe, Mexico; Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Canada; and Prompt Succor, New Orleans, Louisiana. Pope St. Pius X contributed a large emerald of his own to the crowns of the Madonna and Child in New York. 
Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Most Precious Blood Church, NYC 
Document from church archives
Records at Most Precious Blood Church indicate a Mutual Aid Society under the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel had been in existence at least since 1896, with a statue of the Madonna belonging to the Society venerated by members of the Italian congregation. In 1896 the original statue was removed from the church by the Society, and replaced with another. 
In 1975, another Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was founded by Brother Matthew Morreale under the pastorship of Father Marion Cascino. In October 1976, however, by general consensus of the Franciscan friary and Parochial Chapter, Most Precious Blood Church broke connections with the second Society. 
By 1977, the Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was housed in a basement apartment at 174 Elizabeth Street (near Spring St.), and from July 13 to July 16, 1978, sponsored its first annual Procession and Bazaar at Most Precious Blood Church under the pastorship of Rev. Adolph Giorda. 
There had always been a connection with the parishioners of Most Precious Blood Church and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Harlem. Groups of devoted women made vows to the Virgin for various intentions. They would walk barefoot from Little Italy to the Shrine on 115th Street, following traditional Italian devotional custom, on her feast day July 16, to fulfill their vows. 
Shrine Church of Most Precious Blood
113 Baxter Street, New York, NY 10013

April 19, 2016

Solemn Mass and Investiture of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City

Also see:
Congratulations Cav. Michael T. Viola on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
Congratulations Anthony J. O'Boyle Esq. on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
Investiture and Mass in the Presence of the Royal Family of the Two Sicilies at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City
A Royal Welcome
Neo-Bourbons Gearing Up to Welcome TRH Prince Carlo and Princess Camilla di Borbone Delle Due Sicilie to New York City
Royal Visit to New York City
Celebrating the Feast of Saint George with the Sacred Constantinian Military Order of Saint George
Honoring Francesco II di Borbone in New York City

Corrado Giaquinto

The Penitent Magdalen
by Corrado Giaquinto
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
When I first viewed The Penitent Magdalen by Corrado Giaquinto at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was surprised to see that it was classified as Italian. I wondered about that, because many of the "Italian" paintings are classified by region. At first I thought it might be an oversight, or possibly a slight against the artist's birthplace in Puglia. Uncomfortable with my own wild speculation I decided to investigate. I found that the regional labels had more to do with particular artistic styles than the origin of the artists themselves, although in many cases they were identical. Corrado Giaquinto was a special case. He was known to adopt the style of the various locations where he painted, making classification difficult, and his work even more interesting.
Corrado Giaquinto was born in Molfetta, Puglia, in 1703. At sixteen he travelled to Naples and studied under the tutelage of Nicola Maria Rossi, a pupil of Francesco Solimena. Eventually, he would receive art instruction from the Neapolitan master himself. After several years of apprenticeship in Solimena's studio Giaquinto would seek his fortunes elsewhere. Unfortunately, only one work by the artist from this period is known to exist, a copy of one of Solimena's paintings. Continue reading

April 17, 2016

A Brief Sketch: Onofrio Avellino

Madonna in Glory with Saints
and Angels by Onofrio Avellino
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Little is known about Onofrio Avellino's life. He was probably born in 1674 in Naples and as his surname suggests, his family may have originally hailed from Avellino, a small town nestled between the foothills of the Apennine Mountains in Campania. He first apprenticed under Luca Giordano in Naples, sometimes putting finishing touches on his master's work. In fact, Avellino was so adept at emulating his instructor the copies are often mistaken for the original. His older brother, Giulio Giacinto Avellino, was also a painter.
After Giordano's departure to Spain in 1692 Avellino trained with Francesco Solimena. Under his new teacher's guidance the young artist drifted away from the vibrant Giordanesque style of painting towards a more classical idiom. He painted a variety of subjects, though portraits were considered his forte. Examples of Avellino's early work can be found in the small coastal town of Vico Equense and the Church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. Continue reading

April 15, 2016

Corrado Alvaro: An Introduction to His Life and Work

Corrado Alvaro
By Giovanni di Napoli
Not too long ago, while discussing with some friends the tenets of Tom Verso's article, Towards an American Terroni "Education Manifesto," one name came up repeatedly as a "must-read" candidate for any future curriculum specializing in Southern Italian historiography—Corrado Alvaro. Embarrassed that I've only read his Revolt in Aspromonte, I dusted off my copy and reread it. Subsequently, I made it a point to find other works by the author, but discovered that only two others—Man is Strong and The Long Night of Medea—were available in English. Luckily, I found the former at my local library and the later at a used bookstore. Needless to say, now I understand why my friends were so adamant about his inclusion. Continue reading

The Colossus of Watts

Sam Rodia – Designer and Builder of the Watts Towers
Sabato “Sam” Rodia
By Niccolò Graffio
“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.” – Lyof N. Tolstoy: What is Art?, 1898
When I was a teenager my father would take us every summer down south to places like South Carolina and Florida. On one of those trips we visited Coral Castle, a sprawling stone structure located just north of the city of Homestead, Florida in Miami-Dade County.
Coral Castle is a remarkable edifice consisting of hundreds of tons of oolitic limestone that have been shaped into furniture, walls, carvings and a castle tower. The largest of these stones weighs 30 tons. What makes Coral Castle all the more incredible is the fact the entire structure was apparently built by only one man, an eccentric Latvian immigrant by the name of Edward Leedskalnin! The methods Leedskalnin used in building Coral Castle are shrouded in mystery. When questioned he always gave polite but evasive answers. Though some claim to have figured out how he did it, to this day it remains a mystery. If you ever travel down to Miami-Dade County, Florida it’s worth a trip to see Coral Castle. Continue reading

Announcing the 2016 Feast of SS. Crocifisso Di Ciminna, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

April 14, 2016

One Tin Soldier

The Frank Serpico Story
Frank Serpico
By Niccolò Graffio
“When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, The post of honor is a private station.”– Joseph Addison: Cato, IV, 1713
Francesco Vincent “Frank” Serpico was born on April 14th, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Vincenzo Serpico, was born in the town of Marigliano, in the province of Naples, in the region of Campania, Italy. His mother, Maria Giovanna, was born in Ohio but returned with her family when she was young to Italy where she later met and married Vincenzo.
Frank Serpico’s childhood was an innocuous one. At the age of 18 he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped off to Korea, where he remained stationed for two years. Returning home, he enrolled in Brooklyn College, CUNY, while working part-time as a private investigator and youth counselor. Continue reading