December 31, 2017

New Years Eve and the Feast of San Silvestro I

My lucky skivvies
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 31st is the Feast of San Silvestro il Primo (St. Sylvester the First), Pope (314-335) and Confessor of the Faith. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Sacco (SA), Cesinali (AV), and Feroleto Antico (CZ). According to legend, he baptized and miraculously cured Emperor Constantine the Great of leprosy. A version of the tale can be found in the renowned Sicilian folklorist Giuseppe Pitrè’s The Collected Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales, a collection of Sicilian oral traditions. More fancifully, he is said to have subdued a pestilent dragon with the aid of the Virgin.
By happenstance, the day coincides with New Year's Eve and has become somewhat entwined with the jubilant year-end celebration, so most of the popular traditions affiliated with La Festa di San Silvestro have more to do with the secular New Year than with the Saint's day. 
Typical New Year's Eve celebrations in southern Italy begin with dinner parties. And what better way to ring in the New Year than with a hearty meal with family and friends? Customarily lentils and pork sausages are served for dinner. It's said the food represents wealth and will bring good fortune to those who partake in the meal. In some households, figs are also exchanged so the coming year will be sweet as well. Afterward, people gather around bonfires or get together in the streets and squares to socialize and make merry. At midnight they watch huge fireworks displays. (The one in Naples is sheer pandemonium—watch YouTube video)
Of course, not all the rituals and folklore are related to food. In Naples, for example, some people still throw their old and broken household items out of their windows at midnight, taking the popular saying "Out with the old and in with the new" quite literally. This cleansing ritual symbolizes an optimistic fresh start.
The superstitious also believe smashing plates and glasses on the ground will frighten and chase away evil spirits. At the very least, its a cathartic release.
Wearing red underwear is another popular custom. The explanations for this curious practice are varied. For example, I've heard it said that red is a lucky color and it will bring prosperity to the wearer. Supposedly, it also symbolizes virility or fertility and is worn by those looking to have children or find romance. 
Whatever the true meaning is, I won't be taking any chances and will be wearing mine when I ring in the New Year. Viva San Silvestro! Buon Anno! Happy New Year!
Prayer to St. Sylvester 
O Loving Father and Saint Sylvester be a tower of strength to Your children, grant us increase, protect us from all harm and present, with your powerful intercession, our prayers to the Almighty. Pray for us, O Holy Father Saint Sylvester that we may be made worthy of promises of Christ. Be present to Your servants, O Lord, and through the intercession of our Holy Father Saint Sylvester, bestow upon us the unceasing help of Your grace so that, by following his example, we may be defended by Thy protection. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Feast of Santa Colomba di Sens

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

December 30, 2017

Top 10 Posts of 2017

Aside from surpassing one million views on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, highlights from 2017 include: (Top row) Celebrating the 2nd Annual Feast of San Michele Arcangelo; celebrating Nicole and John Viola's Wedding; venerating the relic of the True Cross during the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; (bottom row) carrying San Gennaro on his Feast Day in Little Italy; seeing John T. La Barbera and Nando Citarella perform together at Most Precious Blood Church; and celebrating the 128th Annual Feast of San Rocco
Top Ten Posts:
01 Commemorating the Battle of Bitonto in NYC
02 A Review of Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales,” based on the book by Giambattista Basile
03 Arba Sicula Presents an Evening of Sicilian Music, Poetry and Dance at St. John’s University
04 Chef Giuseppe Marrone Takes the Helm at ACQUA Restaurant and Wine Bar at Peck Slip, NYC
05 Celebrating Pasquetta at the Our Lady of the Snow Sagra della Pizza Chiena (Pizza Rustica Festival)
06 Days of Remembrance in Gaeta, City of Memory
07 Auxiliary Malta Walks in NYC, July 2017
08 Il Regno’s 2017 Weekend Getaway
09 Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar Fall Party
10 Celebrating Italian Heritage Month with the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Honorable mention:
11 Risorgimento Lecture and Plaque Unveiling at the Italian American Museum
12 The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George Investiture Mass in Washington DC
13 A Look at the National Italian American Foundation’s 42nd Anniversary Expo and Gala

Click here to see last year’s results

The Sicilian Cart: History in Movement

On view at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) through February 4, 2018
Tuesday — Sunday (10am-3pm)
FREE Admission – Donations Encouraged

For more information visit

Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA)
125 Paseo de la Plaza Suite 406
Los Angeles, CA 90012

December 29, 2017

Feast of San Tommaso Becket

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

December 28, 2017

Feast of Santa Caterina Volpicelli

Evviva Santa Caterina!
December 28th is the Feast of Santa Caterina Volpicelli, founder of the Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart. Born into an upper middle-class family in Naples on January 21, 1839, Caterina gave up the bourgeois lifestyle for the grace of a religious vocation. In 1873—with the approval of the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, the Servant of God Sisto Riario Sforza—she founded the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart, a confraternity dedicated to contemplation and many charitable works. Among these were the establishment of orphanages, libraries and chapels. During a cholera outbreak in 1884, Caterina and the handmaidens distinguished themselves in ministering to the needs of the victims. They were granted a "decree of praise" from Pope Leo XIII on June 13, 1890. 
Caterina Volpicelli died at the age of 55 on December 28, 1894. She was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII on March 25, 1945 and proclaimed blessed by Pope John Paul II on April 29, 2001. Recognizing a miracle attributed to her intercession, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Caterina on April 26, 2009. In celebration of her feast, I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Caterina Volpicelli.
Prayer to Saint Caterina Volpicelli
Saint Catherine, mother of young people and children, sister of the poor, friend of families, confidant of those who, eager to meet Christ, rely on your prayer and your advice, show yourself to us today, mother, sister, friend and confidant; help guide us on the paths of holiness. Teach us to love the Eucharist and the Church. Grant us wisdom of heart and mind. Feed in us deep faith, perfect charity and living hope. Make us love Jesus and the Virgin Mary, as you loved them. Amen.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

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

Prayer for the Holy Innocents

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

Traditional Masses for January 1, the Feast of the Circumcision

Stained glass window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Chartres
Photo courtesy of Society of St. Hugh of Cluny
January 1st, Octave of Christmas Schedule of Traditional Masses

St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT, 9 am.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius Oratory, Bridgeport, CT, Low Mass at 8:30 and a High Mass at 10:15 am.

St. Stanislaus Church, New Haven, low Mass, 2 pm.

Church of the Holy Innocents, New York,
Sunday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve, 9AM low Mass, 10:30 AM high Mass
Traditional Vespers: 2:30PM, preceded by the Rosary
After the 4PM until 11PM – Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
11PM – Singing of the Te Deum followed by Benediction
11:30PM – Mass of Reparation (Traditional High Mass)
Monday, January 1, 2018, 9AM – (Low Mass), 10:30AM – ( High Mass)

Church of St. Agnes, New York, Missa Cantata, 10:30 am followed by the singing of Veni Creator Spiritus.

Immaculate Conception Church, Sleepy Hollow, NY, 3 pm low Mass.

St. Patrick Church, Newburgh, NY, 3 pm.

Source: The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny

December 27, 2017

La Vigilia and Other Christmas Traditions

Baccalà with tomato, onion and olives
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Like many Duesiciliano Americans, my family keeps the tradition of La Vigilia di Natale, the southern Italian ritual of eating seafood and eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. Despite regular and varied claims to authenticity, I believe the so-called Festa dei sette pesci, or the Feast of the Seven Fishes, is a recent fabrication. Though more lavish then in the past, according to our matriarchs there were never a set number of dishes served. We simply ate what we could afford, and what was fresh and available.
(Above and below) Raw clams and mussels for starters
Today, we normally have shrimp, calamari (squid), clams, mussels and scungilli (whelk), which all can be prepared in a variety of ways. Capitone fritto alla napoletana (fried eel) use to be the main course, but nowadays—since the passing of my grandparents—we sometimes have aragosta (lobster), ricci di mare (sea urchin) or baccalà (salt cod).
Insalata di mare
Fritto misto di mare
As always, the ladies outdid themselves and treated us to another memorable dinner.
Following the fish bonanza was another southern Italian specialty: panzerotti, delicious deep fried crescent-shaped dough filled with mozzarella and tomato; ricotta; or onions and capers.
Gamberoni alla griglia
Three different types of Panzerotti
Next came fruit, roasted chestnuts, caffè and an assortment of delicious sweets, including Pasticciotti Leccesi and struffoli, the quintessential Neapolitan Christmas dessert that will satisfy the most stubborn sweet tooth. There is no panettone in my house.
Struffoli, Neapolitan honey fritters
The vigil, of course, is not just about food, it's also about family and faith.
After dinner we played games (tombola) with the kids and attended Midnight Mass in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Afterward, we walked through the neighborhood to see the spectacular Christmas decorations. My family has been doing this for as long as I can remember, though originally it was in East New York, Brooklyn, where my maternal grand- and great-grandparents were from.
Dad's American style Christmas ham with pineapple rings
Christmas morning we exchanged presents, made the rounds and visited family and friends until dinnertime. No less extravagant than the Eve, Christmas dinner was a culinary tour de force with plenty of hot and cold antipastiinsalata, pizza, baked manicotti and a American-style Christmas ham. Fruit, dessert and caffè complete the meal.
Sicilian Torroncino and Amaro del Capo from Calabria
Not quite finished yet, December 26th is Saint Stephen's Day. In honor of the Feast of Santo Stefano, the first martyr (and my saintly Confirmation namesake), we usually celebrate with torrone, a sticky nougat candy made from honey, nuts and egg whites that dates back to Roman times. I like mine with a glass of Strega or AmaroBuon Natale!
Amended 2017

Feast of San Giovanni Evangelista

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

December 26, 2017

The Presepe Napoletano at the Italian American Museum

John Miniero with his outdoor presepio in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
Thursday, December 28th @ 6:30pm—8:00pm

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
New York, NT 10013

Talk and dvd based photo presentation on "The Presepe Napoletano" by Anita Sanseverino and Lou Barella at the Italian American Museum on Thursday, December 28 at 6:30PM. The evening's program will feature a special unveiling of the Presepe Napoletano (Neapolitan Style Nativity Scene) made by artist John Miniero.

About the presentation:
The Presepe Napoletano is more than a Nativity scene! It is a unique art form which combines the birth of Christ with the daily life of the people of Naples. This art form places Naples at the center of the monumental event of the birth of Christ! The art of the presepe reached its pinnacle in 18th century Naples but still continues today.

Come and learn the history of this art form and appreciate the detailed re-creation of the traditional presepe as crafted by local artist John Miniero. The presepe he created for Anita will be displayed and you will be able to meet the artist as well.

About John Miniero:
John Miniero is a very special Brooklynite, who displays an extraordinary Neapolitan Presepe outside his home in Dyker Heights/Bensonhurst every Christmas season.

John was born in Sorrento and immigrated to America in 1957 when he was just 12 years old. He served in the United States Army from 1962-64 and was a baker who owned the Sorrento Bakery for 28 years, from 1984-2002.

After that, he was a cake decorator, and finally retired this year.

John has been fascinated with the presepe since childhood and remembers his father making the landscape "home-style" using brown paper, flour and water, supporting it with fig tree branches. When he began creating his own presepe, he displayed it in the store window of his bakery. After selling the business, John started building a new presepe at home. It has grown to 15 feet across and is mounted in a plexi-glass display case outside his home. Among the unique features are a landscape made of the raw bark of the cork tree, authentic-looking houses of the Campania region of Italy, multiple sections of running water and hundreds of paesani.

Come and learn about the history of this important Neapolitan artistic tradition, and see John's artistry in person!

For reservations call the Museum at 212.965.9000, send an email to or fax 347.810.1028. Light refreshments will be served. Suggested donation of $10 per person.

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

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

December 25, 2017

Buon Natale!

Holy Family by Salvatore di Franco
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas! Peace and joy be with you all.
In celebration I'm posting "The Old Manger" from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.* 

The accompanying photo of the Neapolitan presepio was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The Old Manger
I recollect the old manger at Christmas fest
built by my father, his soul in peace may rest,
the grotto, the straw and the baby poorly dressed
attended by Saint Joseph and Mary blest,

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

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

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

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

December 24, 2017

Photo of the Week: The Presepio at the Chiesa dello Santo Spirito dei Napoletani in Rome

Presepio at the Church of Santo Spirito dei Napoletani in Rome
Photo courtesy of HE Cav. John M. Viola

December 23, 2017

NYC's Auxiliary Malta Walk, December 2017

After saying the Daily Prayer to the Order of Malta 
volunteers took a group photo before hitting the pavement
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Cav. John Napoli
Meeting every third Tuesday of the month (@7:30pm) at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral parish house (263 Mulberry Street), a group of resolute volunteers prepare and distribute food to the homeless. Led by Dama Francesca Tempesta, we make our way around the Bowery, in Manhattan's Lower East Side, and hand out some 50 care packages with ready-to-eat food (sandwiches, fruit, etc.) and toiletries (toothbrushes, mouthwash, etc.). Knit hats and scarves are included during the cold winter months.
Volunteers busy preparing the care packages
Anyone interested in supporting this noble endeavor can contact the Order of Malta Auxiliary at or call 917-566-3937. For additional information, the Order can be found on Facebook at
Cav. Charles Sant'Elia (right) of the Sacred Military
Constantinian Order of St. George contributes hats and scarves
with Dr. Michael Espiritu and Francesca Tempesta, DM
God Bless Francesca, the Order of Malta Auxiliary, and Msgr. Donald Sakano, Pastor of Old St. Pat's, for organizing the monthly walk; their hard work and generosity are truly inspiring. I am deeply honored to serve with such an outstanding group of people and committed to do my part and contribute in any way I can to this worthy cause.
Also see:
Auxiliary Malta Walk in NYC, October 2017
Auxiliary Malta Walks in NYC, July 2017
Supporting the “Malta Walks” Street Ministry

Sung Traditional Latin Masses at Our Lady of Peace

The Nativity outside Our Lady of Peace Church
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Christmas Day
Monday, December 25th @ 9:30 a.m.

External Solemnity of Epiphany
Sunday, January 7th @ 9:30 a.m.

Our Lady of Peace
522 Carroll Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Our Lady of Peace has a TLM every Sunday at 9:30 am.

December 22, 2017

Outdoor Presepe Napoletano in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
If you’re planning to visit the spectacular Dyker Lights Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, be sure to stop by John Miniero’s house on 14th Avenue, between 79th and 80th Streets, to see his wondrous annual outdoor prespio. The Neapolitan Christmas tradition has been a neighborhood favorite for many years and continues to amaze onlookers with its whimsy and complexity.
Also see:
Dyker Heights Outdoor Presepe Napoletano
Dyker Heights' Neapolitan Nativity
John Miniero's Presepe Napoletano: A Christmas Tradition in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

December 21, 2017

Traditional Masses for Christmas

Stained glassed window from the Church of the Incarnation, New York
Photo courtesy of the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny
St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT, 12 midnight, Solemn Midnight Mass (11 pm Rosary by the Creche, 11:30 pm carols), 9:30 am Solemn Mass for Christmas Day.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, Bridgeport, CT, Midnight (11:45 procession to the Crèche), 8:30 Mass at Dawn Low Mass, 10:15 Mass for the Day High Mass. (Beginning on December 31, the church will have a Low Mass at 8:30 am every Sunday in addition to the 10:15 High Mass)

Church of the Holy Innocents, New York, 12 midnight, Traditional High Mass (followed by a festive reception in the parish hall), 2:30 am, Mass at Dawn (Low Mass), 9 am, Traditional Low Mass, 10:30 am Traditional High Mass.

St. Catherine of Siena Church, NY, Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite for Christmas, 12 Midnight. Featuring Tomas luis de Victoria’s Missa Alma Redemptoris

St. Anthony of Padua, Jersey City, Dec. 24, 9 pm, Mass of the Shepherds; Dec. 25, 9 am.

Our Lady of Fatima, First St. and W. Franklin Ave., Pequannock, NJ Christmas Eve @ 11:00 p.m. and Christmas Day @ 7, 9 and 11 a.m.

January 1st, Octave of Christmas Schedule:

Church of the Holy Innocents, New York, on December 31: 4 pm to 11pm exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; 11pm singing the Te Deum followed by Benediction; 11:30 pm, Mass of Reparation (Missa Cantata); Monday, Jan. 1, 9 am low Mass, 10:30 am high Mass.

Church of St. Agnes, New York, Missa Cantata, 10:30 am followed by the singing of Veni Creator Spiritus.

Source: The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny

Happy Winter!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The occasion signifies the coming increase of sunlight and the slow return of spring. In honor of this wondrous cycle I would like to share a poem by Giuseppe Rosato (b. 1932 – Lanciano, Abruzzo) from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.58.
Suddenly, skies darkened
clouds swarmed
and a burst of snow
enwhitened the world.

Upon that cottony silence
time stopped to catch its breath,
and forget to pass.

You could feel the embers of your thoughts
dying. Outside, a pack of children,
cut loose, rejoiced.

(Translated by Anthony Molino)