May 26, 2018

Festa della Madonna delle Milizie di Scicli

La Battaglia de Milici 
Every year on the last Saturday in May, the town of Scicli (a Baroque jewel in the province of Ragusa, Sicily) celebrates the Festa della Madonna delle Milizie and the miraculous triumph of Count Roger of Hauteville over the Saracens in 1091. 
The feast commemorates the divine intercession of the Blessed Mother on behalf of the Norman forces at a critical point in the battle. Overwhelmed by the paynim's superior numbers and fearing defeat, Count Roger invoked the aid of the Virgin. Mounted on a white charger and dressed in full military regalia, the apparition of Our Lady appeared on the field-of-battle in the district of Milizie and lead the Normans to victory. The triumph was of great importance for the eventual Christian reconquest of the island.
As part of the jubilant festivities the Sciclitani dress in period costumes (Christian and Moslem) and parade an equestrian statue of the Madonna through the bustling streets with much fanfare. Among the local delicacies served for the occasion is a delectable cream puff shaped like a turban called testa di turco, or Turkish heads. 
In commemoration I'm posting a Prayer to Our Lady.

O Mother of Perpetual Help


O Mother of Perpetual Help
To thee we come imploring help.
Behold us here, from far and near,
To ask of thee our help to be;
Behold us here, from far and near,
To ask of thee our help to be.

Perpetual help we beg of thee;
Our souls from sin and sorrow free;
Direct our wandering feet aright,
And be thyself our own true light;
Direct our wandering feet aright,
And be thyself out own true light.

And when this life is o'er for me,
This last request I ask of thee:
Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
To see my God there face to face;
Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
To see my God there face to face.

Feast of San Filippo Neri

Viva San Filippo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
May 26th is the Feast Day of San Filippo Neri (Saint Philip Neri), the Apostle of Rome. Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of secular clergy, he is the patron saint of joy and protector of Roseto Valfortore, a small town in the Province of Foggia in Apulia. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Philip Neri. The accompanying photo was taken at The Oratory Church of Saint Boniface in downtown Brooklyn.
A Prayer to St. Philip Neri
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.

May 25, 2018

Feast of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi

Evviva Santa Maria Maddalena!
May 25th is the Feast day of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi (Firenze 1566–1607), Mystic and Carmelite nun. One of the co-patrons of Naples, she is invoked against bodily ills and sexual temptation. Known as the “ecstatic saint,” due to the frequency she fell into ecstasy, she is credited with many miracles. In commemoration, I’m posting a prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. The accompanying photo of the saint was taken during my 2010 pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Carmine in Sorrento, Campania.
Prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, pray that we will make a commitment to seek the presence of God in prayer the way you did. Guide us to see the graces God gives us as gifts not rewards and to respond with gratitude and humility, not pride and selfishness. Amen

Announcing the 2018 Festa di San Calogero in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

May 24, 2018

Celebrating the 2018 Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Evviva Santa Rita!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Tuesday evening, I had the great pleasure of joining nearly 100 devotees at Saint Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, for the annual Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia and Tuesday Devotion to Sant’Antonio da Padova. Sponsored by the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata, attendees celebrated Mass, venerated the relic of Sant’Antonio, and processed in prayer around the parish with the statue of St. Rita. Festivities concluded with the distribution of blessed loaves of bread, some refreshments, and fellowship in the church auditorium.
(Above & below) Religious articles and roses were available for purchase 
Arriving early, I was able to offer reparation and venerate the saints.
(L-R) SS. Crocifiso di Ciminna and Santa Fara di Cinisi 
Before Mass, we participated in the weekly
Thirteen Tuesday devotion to Sant’Antonio da Padova
Lucrezia Nardulli led the evening’s novena prayer to Santa Rita
Members of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata
show their devotion to Santa Rita
 
Msgr. David Cassato celebrated Mass in English and Italian
(Above & below) Msgr. Cassato blesses the roses and baskets of bread
(L-R) After Mass, Lucrezia and Josephine led the procession from the church
(Above & below) The procession wends its way through the neighborhood
(Above & below) The ladies take turns carrying our beloved patroness 
Circling the parish, the procession saunters back to St. Athanasius
Members pose for a commemorative photo 
The blessed bread is distributed to the participants
Afterward, partygoers continued the celebration in the auditorium

Young Adults Latin Mass & Rosary Procession - Trinity Sunday, East Harlem, New York

May 23, 2018

Celebrating the 2018 Feast of the Madonna del Sacro Monte in Clifton, New Jersey

Evviva Maria!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Despite the menacing forecast, over two hundred pilgrims gathered at Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey Sunday morning for the Feast of the Madonna del Sacro Monte. Thankfully, the rain never materialized and we all had a fantastic time celebrating our faith and culture.
(L.) John, Stephanie and Nicole affixed the crowns to the statue. (R.) HE Cav. John M. Viola of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George with cavalieri Vito Totino of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and John Napoli 
(Above & below) The Missa Cantata was celebrated by Fr. Anthony Mastroeni
The traditional Mass was sung by the outdoor chapels
of the Madonna del Sacro Monte and the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Members of the Congregazione Maria Ss. del Sacro Monte
stand watch by the statue of the Blessed Mother
 
(L-R) Beautiful mosaic and stain glass window inside the chapel
Vesting prayers for La Congregazione Maria Ss. del Sacro Monte
di Novi Velia Salerno di Jersey City, New Jersey
 
After Mass, devotees carry the Blessed Mother along the monastery path
Fr. Mastroeni is escorted by servers and Knights 
With great pageantry, the procession circles the monastery three times
The Tony Neglia Band 
Ladies carried flowers and votive candles 
(L.) The festivities included traditional southern Italian music.
(R.) Devotees pin donations on to the statue
Afterward, revelers enjoyed a festive luncheon 
Our friends from the Sandu Manghesi del Cliento Club 
We enjoyed a terrific barbecue with all the fixins
I inhaled a tasty marinated sliced pork and peppers sandwich 
Ciro DiLorenzo sang all our favorite Neapolitan & Italian American songs
There was plenty of fresh air and fun games for kids... 
...and adults alike 
The ladies enjoyed a very competitive game of “pass the provolone,”
a humorous take on “hot potato,” where the winner gets the cheese
Also see:
Celebrating the 2017 Feast of the Madonna del Sacro Monte in Clifton, New Jersey
A Look at the 2015 Festa della Madonna del Sacro Monte at Holy Face Monastery, Clifton, New Jersey
A Look at the 2014 Festa della Madonna del Sacro Monte at Holy Face Monastery, Clifton, New Jersey
A Look at the 2013 Festa della Madonna del Sacro Monte at Holy Face Monastery, Clifton, New Jersey

May 22, 2018

Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia

Evviva Santa Rita!
May 22nd is the Feast Day of Santa Rita da Cascia, the “Saint of the impossible.” Widely venerated across southern Italy, she is one of the co-patrons of Naples. She is also invoked against smallpox, infertility, difficult marriages and lost or impossible causes. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Rita. The accompanying photo was taken at historic Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan.
St. Rita Prayer of the Roses
O Blessed Saint Rita, my powerful advocate, behold me prostrate before thy Divine Spouse, Jesus, thy Lord, thy God, and thy All. Behold me recalling His favors to thee, that thou mayst plead for me. May this blessed Rose, sweet with the memories of thy daily acts of love before the image of the Crucified Savior, and of the wonders wrought for thee in thy dying moments, give me confidence that thou in Heaven wilt plead that I, too, may share in the good things God has in store for thy clients. Saint Rita, mystical Rose of every virtue, pray for us.

Il Maggio di San Giuliano: The Marriage of Trees and the Feast of Saint Giuliano the Martyr

Viva San Giulliano!
By Giovanni di Napoli
Remote Accettura lies in the rugged Southern Italian hinterland of Matera, a province in the region of Basilicata, also called Lucania. The small hilltop town boasts one of the oldest festivals in Italy, il Maggio di Accettura.
Some say the Maggio, or May Festival, predates the classical era by at least a millennia. Others, because of its similarities with the Germanic Maypole, claim the Lombards introduced it. Whatever its origins, like many other holidays, the ancient fertility rite has been repurposed for the Christian observance. In a medley of traditions, "The Marriage of Trees," as the ancient ritual is known, is now happily associated with Accettura's patron saint, San Giuliano di Sora and the celebration of Pentecost. Continue reading

May 21, 2018

Feast of the Madonna Della Fontana

Viva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
May 21st is the Feast Day of the Madonna della Fontana (Our Lady of the Fountain), patroness of Spilinga, a small town in the Vibo Valentia Province of Calabria. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer in Italian to Our Lady of the Fountain. The accompanying photo was taken at the outdoor chapel next to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey during the 2016 Feast of the Madonna della Fontana and St. Michael the Archangel.
Preghiera a Maria SS. Della Fontana    
O Vergine Maria, tesoriera di grazie, Voi che state rinchiusa in umile grotta, da cui concedete ai fedeli che vi invocano con fede e devozione moltissime grazie fate che noi non perdiamo mai la fede che ci fa sperare le più elette benedizioni dal Cielo e ci conforta in questa valle di lacrime.


Proteggeteci o Madre, affinché la mano del Pargoletto Gesù che Voi stringete fra le Vostre braccia si tenda verso di noi Vostri devoti per difenderci da tutti i pericoli della vita presente e così possiamo un giorno, sorretti dal Vostro potente patrocinio, cantare le Vostre glorie nel Regno dell'Amore. Così sia.

Feast of the Madonna Avvocata

Ave Maria!
The Monday following Pentecost is the Feast of the Madonna Avvocata (Our Lady of the Advocate), one of the so-called "Seven Sisters of Campania,” an appellation given to the region's major Marian devotions under different titles. According to tradition, in 1485 a shepherd named Gabriele Cinnamo was drawn to a cave on top of Mount Falerzio in the Capo d’Orso area of Maiori on the Amalfi Coast. An apparition of the Blessed Mother appeared to Gabriele and instructed him to build a shrine at the location. Gabriele abandoned his life as a shepherd and devoted himself to Our Lady and her request. Over the centuries his modest chapel grew into the magnificent Santuario di Maria Santissima Avvocata, which has become a popular destination for pilgrims and the source of many miracles. In celebration I’m posting a Hail Holy Queen.
Hail Holy Queen 
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy: Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this veil of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, o sweet Virgin Mary.