December 31, 2019

Christmastide is Only Just Beginning

The Shrine to the Holy Innocents
located in the narthex of Church of the Holy Innocents

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
One cannot help but notice the puzzled look on some peoples’ faces when you wish them a “Merry Christmas” more than two days after Christmas Day. I’m not talking about people from different backgrounds or religions; I’m talking about those Catholics who have inexplicably forgotten their own customs and traditions. Be that as it may, for some of us the joyous season celebrating the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is only just beginning.

Thursday, December 26th — the Feast of St. Stephen, the First Martyr 

A bit weary from all the traveling and merry-making on Christmas Eve and Day, I decided to host a more subdued soirée this year in honor of il Giorno di Santo Stefano, or St. Stephen’s Day. Nothing too elaborate, we just had a few cocktails, some light fare, and the customary torrone imported from Avellino and Sicily, all while listening to Christmas music by the great Neapolitan composer Francesco Durante (1684-1755). The little get-together with dear friends is my own modest way of observing my saintly Confirmation namesake. Evviva Santo Stefano!

Soft torrone from Sicily with a glass of Liquore Strega
Friday, December 27th — The Feast of St. John the Evangelist and memorial of the death of HM Francesco II, King of the Two Sicilies 

Do to a previous engagement, I was unable to make Mass Friday night, however I was able to meet up with my St. Rocco Society brethren for our monthly “boys night out” in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Seeing as I was fasting for the vigil of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and had an early day ahead of me on Saturday, I did not partake in the dinner, but I did allow myself one celebratory drink in honor of San Giovanni Evangelista.

A few of us exchanged small Christmas gifts, and knowing how much I like prayer cards, my good friend Andrew surprised me with a few he brought back from his recent jaunt in Southern Italy.

Before calling it a night, the monarchists among us did not forget to toast the memory of HM Francesco II di Borbone (1836-1894), the last King of the Two Sicilies. Normally on the anniversary of his death we would have a big to do, but unfortunately this year we were unable to do more. Viva ‘o Rre! Evviva San Giovanni!

I know it was a gag gift, but I'm not a fan of the Padre Pio cigarette lighter 
On the other hand, I loved the awesome St. Michael
Combat Chaplet from Roman Catholic Man
I got a nice assortment of prayer cards from Matera and Campania
Saturday, December 28th — the Feasts of the Holy Innocents and Santa Caterina Volpicelli 
Ex ore infántium, Deus et lacténtium perfecísti lauded propter inimícos tuos. Psalm 8. 2 Dómine Dóminus noster: quam admirábile est nomen tuum in univérsa terra! V. Glória Patri. Ex ore infántium. 1
Early Saturday morning Members of the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) gathered at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) to celebrate the Annual Mass for the Unborn and Rosary Procession. Our first time attending the event, we were unsure what to expect, but were happy to discover a sea of sisters, brothers and laity already packed into the church when we arrived.

Led for many years by Fr. Benedict Groeschel (1933-2014), the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal, Sisters of Life, and the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants still keep the crucial Christmas tradition going strong.

After Mass, there was the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration. This was quickly followed by a solemn procession with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn, to Parkmed NYC, an ungodly abortion mill located on 2nd Avenue. Cordoned off by police barricades, over two hundred pro-life participants prayed 15 decades of the Rosary.

Hundreds participated in Saturday's Mass for the Unborn and Rosary Procession
Young men took turns carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe 
(L) Returning to Holy Innocents for the Benediction. (R) The beautifully decorated high altar and famed Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, we sauntered back to the church for the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Afterward, a festive social was held in the parish hall, replete with trays of baked ziti, chicken-tenders with marinara, and an assortment of coffee and desserts that would be worthy of any Viennese wedding table.

Leaving the reception a little early, we skipped dessert and went upstairs to Confession, then meditated and said our penitential prayers. This gave us the necessary hour of abstinence from food or drink that is required before receiving Holy Communion.

Our Pastor, Fr. James L.P. Miara, sang solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Fr. Christopher Salvatori, SAC, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York, was the Deacon; and Mr. Jeffrey Collins was the Subdeacon. MC Eddy Toribio, several servers, and the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents dutifully assisted the Sacred Ministers.

Because it was the titular feast of the church, a plenary indulgence was granted to those who devoutly attended Mass there and completed the proscribed conditions (Confession, Communion, praying for the intentions of the Holy Father, etc.).

The Sisters of Life helped serve up the delicious fare 
Guests break bread in the parish hall
Sunday, December 29th — Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas 
Dum médium siléntium tenérent ómina, et nox in suo curu médium iter habéret, omnípotens sermo tuss, Dómine, de cælis a regálibus sédibus venit. Ps. 92. 1 Dóminus regnávit, decórum indútus est: indútus est Dóminus fortitúdinem, et præcínxit se. V. Glória Patri. Dum médium. 2
Sunday morning the Sanfedisti returned to Holy Innocents and attended both the 9:00am Tridentine Low Mass and the 10:30 am Tridentine High Mass. Fr. Miara celebrated both. Between the Masses, we made our daily prayers of thanks and praise, recited the Holy Rosary, invoked the saints, and prayed for the poor and forgotten Souls in Purgatory.

Briefly joining our fellow parishioners in the parish hall for coffee hour we mingled and discussed our plans to start a new food walk for the homeless at the church. Well received, we should have the charitable venture up and running soon. Please watch for upcoming details.

Making our way back to Brooklyn for our luncheon at Joe’s of Avenue U (287 Avenue U), we celebrated the Feast of San Tommaso Becket, patron saint of Mottola in Taranto, Puglia, with a variety of Sicilian dishes, including the trippa con patate e piselli and the bucatini con cavolfiore alla palermitana. Always enjoyable, the service and food was excellent. Evviva San Tommaso!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 30, Feast of St. Raynerius of Aquila

Trippa con patate e piselli
Cavolfiore alla palermitana
1) Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings, O God, Thou hast perfected praise, because of Thine enemies. Psalm 8. 2 O Lord our God, how admirable is Thy Name in the whole earth! V. Glory be to the Father. Out of the mouth of infants. ~ Introit Psalm 8. 3

2) While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne. Ps. 92. 1 The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself. V. Glory be to the Father. While all things. ~ Introit Wisdom 18. 14, 15

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. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of Sacco (SA), Cesinali (AV), and Feroleto Antico (CZ). According to tradition, he baptized and miraculously cured Emperor Constantine the Great of leprosy. A version of the story can be found in the renowned Sicilian folklorist Giuseppe Pitrè’s The Collected Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales, a collection of Sicilian oral traditions. Even more amazingly, he is said to have subdued a pestilent dragon with the aid of the Blessed Mother.
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

Top Ten Posts of 2019

(Top, L-R) First Friday and the first official meeting of the Fratelli della Santa
Fede; Bidding Farewell to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima;
and Mother Cabrini and the She Built New York monument debacle.
(Bottom, L-R) The restoration of the Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii at St. Bernadette Church; Sanfedisti celebrating; and venerating St. Boniface 
Top Ten Posts
01 Some Thoughts on the She Built NYC Monument Debacle
02 Binging on Fiction: A Welcome's Blast From My Geeky Past
03 The Long Awaited Return of the Tridentine Mass to St. Finbar Church in Bath Beach, Brooklyn
04 St. Boniface and the Counter-Revolution
05 Celebrating the Feast of Sant’Uberto di Liegi
06 The Once and Future Kingdom
07 Celebrating All Souls Day With My Ancestors
08 The First Decade
09 Briganti Field Trip: Maker of Middle-Earth Exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum
10 A Most Regrettable Sunday

Honorable mention:
11 Celebrating High Mass, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and Devotions in Honor of Our Lady of Fatima in NYC
12 Bidding Farewell to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at Holy Innocents Church in NYC
13 Brief Musings

Click here to see last year’s results

Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany in the East Village, New York City

December 29, 2019

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 San Tommaso. 
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.

First Saturday High Mass & the Blessing of Epiphany Water & Sacramentals in East Harlem, New York

December 28, 2019

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

December 27, 2019

Celebrating Traditional Midnight Mass at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents' Christmas Crèche
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Deus, qui hanc sacratíssimam noctem veri lúminis fecísti illustratióne claréscere: da, quǽsumus; ut, cujus lucis mystéria in terra cognóvimus, ejus quoque gáuddiis in cælo perfruámur: Qui tecum. 1 
Since my decision to only attend the traditional Latin Mass, I knew there would be some difficult decisions to make. Living almost two hours away from our parish meant leaving my family and friends a lot earlier than I would have if I just attended Midnight Mass with them at our local church a block away. Sadly, after our resplendent Vigilia dinner, replete with traditional Duosiciliano seafood dishes, I would miss out on the caffèdolci and games, like tombola and chess, not to mention the much-needed quality time with my loved ones. However, being a holy day of obligation and recognizing there would be plenty more coffee, dessert and hijinks on Christmas Day, I knew what I had to do. After the invitations to join me were courteously (and expectedly) declined, I bid them all a Merry Christmas and went on my way.

Beautifully decorated high altar & famed
Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Catching the train to the city without a hitch, I arrived in record time to the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) in Manhattan. [Insert obvious joke about a Christmas miracle here]. Settling into the beautifully decorated church just as the Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament was beginning, I meditated and prayed the Holy Rosary, as well as my daily prayers for the poor and forgotten Souls in Purgatory.

At 11:00 am the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents began singing a few traditional Christmas carols in Latin. This was soon followed by the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At about a quarter to twelve the lights went off, plunging the nave into darkness, except for the vigil candles held by the parishioners (reminiscent of a Rorate Cæli Mass).

To the opening hymn of Adéste fidelés, there was a candlelight procession to the manger erected before the Our Lady of Perpetual Help bye-altar. Our Pastor, Fr. James L.P. Miara, M. Div., placed the statue of the infant Jesus on His bed of straw, which was surrounded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Good St. Joseph, the angels and shepherds. The crib was blessed and the packed church sat quietly in anticipation.

At midnight the lights were turned on. Fr. Miara sang the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Fr. Michael C. Barone, Chaplain for the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, was the Deacon; and Mr. Jeffrey Collins was the Subdeacon. MC Eddy Toribio, several servers, and the Schola dutifully assisted the sacred ministers.

After Mass, I briefly went downstairs to the parish hall to say hello to a few friends and see the always-delicious home-cooked repast generously prepared by members of the congregation. Still full from dinner and not wanting to miss the votive Low Mass at Dawn commemorating the Feast of Sant’Anastasia di Sirmio, I skipped the reception and rushed back up to the church, joining Fr. Miara and some thirty parishioners for the celebration. Often forgotten, the young Roman virgin was martyred on Christmas Day in 304 A.D. during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. Patroness of Motta Sant’Anastasia in Catania, Sicily, she is also fêted in late August during harvest.

With a long trek home ahead of me and unsure if I would get lucky with the trains again (I did!), I chose not to return to the party. Instead, I took a moment to light a few more candles and prayed for my family, friends and ancestors before departing.

Always worth the effort to visit, Holy Innocents is a steadfast bastion of traditional Catholicism in the heart of our decadent society. In his homily, Fr. Miara quoted St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, “Every church of ours is like another Bethlehem stable, every ciborium, like a manger. Here as there, the same lord Jesus rests—wearied from his majesty.” While this may not be true at every church (please forgive my cynicism), it most certainly is a reality at this thriving sanctuary. May God bless you all, Merry Christmas!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 26th, Feast of Santo Stefano primo Martire

The ladies served up some Christmas cheer at the reception
Maria's delicious pork kielbasa, chicken with fava beans, and beef with barley 
(Above & below) Assorted trays of affettati e formaggio
1) O God, Who hast made this most holy night to shine forth with the splendor of the true Light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have known the mysteries of His light on earth, may enjoy also His happiness in heaven. Who with Thee liveth. ~ Collect

La Vigilia and Other Christmas Traditions

Baccalà in umido with tomato, onion and olives
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Like many Duosiciliano Americans, my family still keeps the tradition of La Vigilia di Natale, the southern Italian ritual of eating seafood and eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. We don’t do the so-called Festa dei sette pesci, or “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” but we do eat a variety of aquatic delicacies.

Despite regular and varied claims to authenticity, I believe the “Seven Fish” custom is a recent fabrication. Though much 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.

Today, we normally have shrimp, calamari, 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, the dish has been replaced with aragosta (lobster), ricci di mare (sea urchin), seppia (cuttlefish), or baccalà (salt cod). This year, we enjoyed baccalà in umido (stewed codfish) and mini lobster tails.

Following the fish bonanza, we had three different types of meatless panzerotti, a delicious deep-fried crescent-shaped dough filled with onions and capers; sweet ricotta; and the classic mozzarella and tomato.

Insalata di mare
Mini lobster tails
Fritto misto di mare
Spaghetti alle vongole 
White wine from Campania
Having left early for Midnight Mass this year (see: Celebrating Traditional Midnight Mass at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents), I missed out on the usual assortment of fruit, nuts, and delicious sweets, as well as playing games with the kids (tombola and chess). I also missed our customary passeggiata through Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, to admire the festive 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 grandparents and great-grandparents were from.

Christmas morning we exchanged presents and made the rounds, visiting 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, baked manicotti and perfectly cooked filet mignon. The steak was a new addition. Fruit, dessert and caffè completed the meal.

Not quite finished yet, on December 26th, the second day of Christmas and St. Stephen's Day (my saintly Confirmation namesake), we celebrate with imported torrone from Avellino, 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 Amaro.

As always, the ladies outdid themselves and treated us to another memorable Christmas. Buon Natale!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 26th, Feast of Santo Stefano primo Martire

Prosciutto e melone, focaccia Pugliese, and frittata di scarola
Filet mignon
Homemade torrone
Homemade cartellate with fig syrup
Add Stratego to game night. For the record, Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo & the Sanfedisti (me) duly defeated the Parthenopaean Republic (my opponent)
Santa really gets me
Amended for 2019

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

In Memory of HM King Francesco II di Borbone

Memorial for HM King Francesco II 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo*
Today we commemorate the anniversary of the death of HM Francesco II di Borbone, the last King of the Two Sicilies.
Eldest Son of HM King Ferdinand II and his first wife HM Blessed Maria Cristina of Savoy, Francesco was born in Napoli on January 16, 1836. With the tragic death of his pious mother (who died from complications during childbirth), the Crowned Prince was raised by his stepmother Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria.
On January 8, 1859 Francesco married Maria Sofia of Bavaria, daughter of Duke Maximilian, by proxy in Munich. The newlyweds met with much fanfare for the first time in Bari on February 3rd. Sadly, they had only one child, Christina Louise Pia (1868), who died when she was only six months old. Continue reading

December 26, 2019

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

Viva Santo Stefano!
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.

Solemn High Mass for Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Bayside, Queens

December 25, 2019

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, 2019

Celebrating the Fourth Faith-Filled Weekend of Advent

Mother Cabrini's precious remains rest in a glass coffin beneath the altar
Photos by Andrew Giordano and New York Scugnizzo
For the fourth straight weekend of Advent, Members of the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) partook in the spiritually edifying devotions and Masses celebrated throughout the solemn liturgical season by Fr. James L.P. Miara, M. Div., Pastor of the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) in Manhattan.

Detail of the 3-story stained glass window
Saturday, December 21st — Votive Mass of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini with the Commemoration of Ember Saturday
Orémus: Dómine Jesu Christie, qui sanctam Virginem Francíscam Xavériam, sacratíssimi Cordis tui inge succénsam, per amplíssimas mundi plagas ad ánimas tibi lucrándas deduxísti, et per eam novam in Ecclésia tua vírginum famíliam suscitásti: concéde, quǽsumas; ut, ipsa intercedénte, ejúsdem Cordis tui virtútibus induámur atque ad ætérnum beatitúdnis portum perveníre mereámur: Qui vivis et regnas. 1
Saturday afternoon, we joined some seventy devotees on the Traditional Latin Mass Pilgrimage to the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine (701 Fort Washington Avenue) in Washington Heights, New York and attended a Votive Mass on the vigil of the 102nd anniversary of the death of Mother Cabrini. Arriving early, visitors had the opportunity to explore the shrine and recite the Holy Rosary.
Crucifix and statue of Mother Cabrini
Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was sung by Fr. Miara. Fr. Christopher Salvatori, SAC, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York, was the Subdeacon and Fr. Peter M. Stravinskas was the homilist. MC Eddy Toribio, a slew of servers, and the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents dutifully assisted the Sacred Ministers.

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was followed by the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, devotions to Mother Cabrini, and veneration of her First-Class Relic.

After Mass, we tagged along with a group of aesthetes and took a short excursion to the Cloisters Museum (99 Margaret Corbin Dr.) at nearby Fort Tryon Park. A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum possesses an impressive collection of sacred art from medieval Europe.

Altar, ca. 1225, Catalonia, Spain
(L) Adoration of the Magi (1470-1480), Upper Rhine, Germany.
(R) The Lamentation, ca. 1480, Castile-La Mancha, Spain 
The Death of the Virgin (The Dormition), late 15th century,
workshop of Tilman Heysacker, Cologne, Germany
(L) Early 16th cen. statue of St. Roch from Normandy, France. (R) St. Anthony Abbot, ca. 1500, attributed to Nikolaus von Hagenau, Strasbourg, Alsace.
A view of the Hudson River from the museum's West Terrace
Sunday, December 22nd — Celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Roráte cæli, désuper, et nubes pluant justum: aperiátur terra, et gérminet Salvatórem. Ps. 18. 2 Cæli enárrant glóriam Dei: et ópera mánuum ejus annúntiat fírmaméntum. V. Glória Patri. Roráte, Cæli. 2
Holy Innocents' high altar and famed
Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Returning to Holy Innocents Church Sunday morning, the Sanfedisti went to Holy Confession and attended both the 9:00am Tridentine Low Mass celebrated by Fr. Michael C. Barone, Chaplain for the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey and the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George; and the 10:30am Tridentine High Mass, sung by Fr. Miara.

Later on, we joined our fellow parishioners in the parish hall for coffee hour and helped set up for the festive reception to follow Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Having fasted on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for our combined Ember Days and Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel devotions, we were really looking forward to our regular group luncheon. However, since it is an extremely busy time of year and we all have last minute errands to run before Christmas, we decided to cut short the festivities and reschedule our group celebration.

As always, it was a great joy to celebrate our faith and culture together. God bless our brethren, kith and kin, and our supporters; we wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 23, Feast of Venerable Therese of St. Augustine

We acquired a few religious goods over the weekend
1) Let us pray: O Lord, Jesus Christ, you enkindled the fire of your Sacred Heart in the holy virgin Frances Xavier so that she might win souls for You in many lands, and establish a new religious congregation of women in Your Church. Grant that we too may imitate the virtues of Your Sacred Heart through her intercession, so that we may be worthy of the haven of eternal happiness: Who livest and reignest. ~ Collect

2) Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. Ps. 18. 2 The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. V. Glory be to the Fathers. Drop down dew. ~ Introit

Also see:
• Celebrating Gaudete Sunday
• Rorate Cæli Mass on the Feast of Santa Lucia
• Public Rosary Rally for Christmas in NYC
• Celebrating First Friday, First Saturday, and the Second Sunday of Advent at the Church of the Holy Innocents
• Advent Sunday at the Met