May 25, 2022

A Look at the Fourteenth Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration in New York City

Battle of Bitonto (c.1750) by Giovanni Luigi Rocco
Members of our little neobriganti community in New York City gathered at Amunì Ristorante (7217 3rd Avenue) in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn last Saturday for our Fourteenth Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration in memory of King Carlo di Borbone’s decisive victory over the Austrians in Apulia on 25 May 1734 and the subsequent founding of the Bourbon Dynasty of Naples and Sicily (later the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies).

Moved forward on account of the Minor Rogation Days, Ascension Thursday and Memorial Day Weekend, revelers exchanged Bourbon-themed gifts, won raffle prizes and, as always, enjoyed a bountiful Sicilian repast.

We honored the fallen on both sides with prayers and toasts. Viva 'o Rre!

Carciofi fritti
Arancini
Milinciani fritta (breaded eggplant, roasted peppers and mozzarella)
Pizza
Cavatelli with sausage, broccoli and pignoli
Braciola di maiale al forno
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Raffle prizes included artisanal soaps from Casa Amalfi and
a tie with the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Artisanal soaps, fleur-de-lis placemats and repurposed Argenio watch boxes with King Carlo di Borbone filled with various Kingdom of the Two Sicilies lapel pins

Feast of San Gregorio VII

San Gregorio VII, ora pro nobis

Deus, in te sperántium fortitúdo, qui beátum Gregórium, Confessórem tuum atque Pontificem, pro tuénda Ecclésiæ libertáte, virtúte constántiæ roborásti: da nobis, ejus exémplo et intercessióne, ómnia adversántia fórtiter superáre. Per Dóminum.

May 25th is the Feast of San Gregorio VII (born Ildebrando di Sovana), Pope and Confessor. Ascending the papal throne on April 22, 1073, Pope Gregorio initiated many important Church reforms known as the Gregorian Reform, including clerical celibacy and the rooting out and destruction of the abuse of simony, the buying or selling of ecclesiastical privileges. 


Repeatedly clashing with King Henry IV (later Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) over the right to install bishops and abbots, or the investiture controversy, Pope Gregorio excommunicated the German monarch on three separate occasions. 

Wax effigy and relics of Pope San Gregorio VII

In 1077 Gregorio famously made the penitent king prostate himself for three days in the cold outside the gates of Cannosa before giving him an audience. A short-lived reconciliation, after obtaining the Holy Father's forgiveness Henry continued to appoint bishops and was excommunicated again. 


Entering Rome with his troops in 1084, Henry forced Gregorio to lock himself inside Castel Sant’Angelo and installed the antipope Clement III (Archbishop Guilbert of Ravenna). 


Soon liberated by Roberto Guiscardo, Duke of Apulia, the wanton excesses of the Duke’s soldiery incensed the people of Rome and forced Gregorio and his Norman allies to withdraw south to Salerno. 

(L-R) Statues of Duchess Sigelgaita, Duke Roberto d'Altavilla,
St. Alfano I of Salerno, and Prince Gisulf of Salerno flank the wax effigy

San Gregorio died in the Principality of Salerno on May 25, 1085. Interred in the Basilica Cattedrale SS. Matteo e Gregorio, which he consecrated a year earlier, his dying words, “Dilexi iustitiam, odivi iniquitatem, propterea morior in esilio" (I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile) are imprinted on the reliquary.


In celebration, I’m posting a prayer in Latin and English. The accompanying photos of the statues and wax effigy at the cathedral in Salerno comes courtesy of Andrew Giordano. Evviva San Gregorio VII!


Prayer


O God, the strength of them that trust in Thee, Who didst fortify blessed Gregory. Thy Confessor and Pontiff, with the virtue of constancy, for the defense of the liberty of the Church, grant us by his example and intercession courageously to overcome all adversities. Through our Lord.

Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet

On the 25th of every month, devotees of the Divine Infancy should pray the Chaplet of the Infant Jesus of Prague, which includes three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys in celebration of the Holy Family and the first twelve years of Our Lord’s childhood. The Chaplet was composed by Venerable Sister Marguerite Parigot of the Blessed Sacrament (March 6, 1590—May 24, 1660), a Discalced Carmelite nun with a strong devotion to the Christ Child. Pleased with the devotion, Our Lord revealed Himself to Sister Marguerite and promised special graces to all who piously recite the Chaplet. In 1855 Pope Pius IX granted an Indulgence of 300 days, applicable to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for its devout recitation.* In celebration, I’m posting the Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet. The accompanying photo is my late paternal Grandmother's statue the Infant Jesus of Prague. It came into my possession after my father's passing and is now a treasured part of my private oratory.

Infant Jesus of Prague Chaplet

Divine Infant Jesus, I adore Thy Cross and I accept all the crosses Thou wilt be pleased to send me. Adorable Trinity, I offer Thee for the glory of Thy Holy Name of God, all the adorations of the Sacred Heart of the Holy Infant Jesus.

(3x) “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” and pray The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)

(12x) “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” and pray The Angelical Salutation (Hail Mary)

Holy Infant Jesus, bless and protect us. Amen.


Further reading:
* www.sistersofcarmel.com

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Brooklyn, New York

May 24, 2022

A Prayer for Uvalde, Texas

Ven. Antonio Margil de Jesús, ora pro nobis
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the horrific May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and their families. Taking place just ten days after the deadly attack in Buffalo, New York, our society clearly suffers from a grave spiritual malady. May Venerable Antonio Margil de Jesús, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Joseph and the Holy Innocents watch over the Great State of Texas.

Prayer for the victims


Loving God, welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, and bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, and may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.

Feast of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice

Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, ora pro nobis
May 24th is the Feast of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice (Our Lady, Help of Christians). Instituted in 1815 by Pope Pius VII in fulfillment of a vow he made to God during his captivity (1809-1814) in Savona and Fontainebleau by Napoleon, the invocation Auxilium Christianorum (Help of Christians) actually dates back to 1571 when Pope St. Pius V included it in the Litany of Loreto in gratitude of the Holy League’s great victory against the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7th. Our Lady, Help of Christians famously came to the aid of Christendom again in the 17th century when Emperor Leopold I of Austria invoked the Blessed Virgin's help against the Turks during the Battle of Vienna. The siege was broken on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary when Poland's heroic King Jan Sobieski and his winged hussars rescued the Imperial City from the Ottoman invaders. In celebration I’m posting a prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians by San Giovanni Bosco. The accompanying photo of votive wall shrine dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians was taken in 2019 in Piazza Bellini in Naples. Evviva Santa Maria Ausiliatrice!

Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians

Most holy and Immaculate Virgin, Help of Christians, we place ourselves under your motherly protection. Throughout the Church’s history you have helped Christians in times of trial, temptation and danger. Time and time again, you have proven to be the Refuge of sinners, the Hope of the hopeless, the Consoler of the afflicted, and the Comforter of the dying. We promise to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, your Son, to proclaim His Good News of God’s love for all people, and to work for peace and justice in our world. With faith in your intercession, we pray for the Church, for our family and friends, for the poor and abandoned, and all the dying. Grant, O Mary, Help of Christians, the graces of which we stand in need. (Mention your intentions.) May we serve Jesus with fidelity and love until death. Help us and our loved ones to attain the boundless joy of being forever with our Father in heaven. Amen.

Feast of Blessed Mario Vergara

Beato Mario Vergara, ora pro nobis
May 24th is the Feast of Blessed Mario Vergara, Priest, Missionary and Martyr. Born in Frattamaggiore, Naples on November 16, 1910, he was the youngest of nine children. Entering seminary in Aversa in 1921, he received Confirmation and moved to the Pontifical Seminary of Campania in Posillipo in 1927. Ordained a priest on August 26, 1934, he soon travelled to Burma and began his missionary activities. At the outbreak of WWII, he was arrested and interred in a British concentration camp in India. After four years of captivity he resumed his missionary work. Murdered with catechist Isidore Ngei Ko Lat by Protestant (Baptists) guerrillas on May 24, 1950, their bodies were thrown in the Salween River. Presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato, the beatification of Fr. Mario Vergara and Isidore Ngei was celebrated in Aversa on May 24, 2014. In celebration, I’m posting a prayer for the Missionary martyrs. Evviva Beato Mario Vergara!

Prayer for the Blessed Martyrs Mario and Isidore

We humbly beseech the mercy of your majesty, almighty and merciful God, that, as you have poured the knowledge of your Only Begotten Son into the hearts of the peoples by the preaching of the blessed Martyrs Mario and Isidore, so, through their intercession, we may be made steadfast in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Photo of the Week: San Raffaele Arcangelo and Tobia by Renato Rossi

San Raffaele Arcangelo e Tobia by Renato Rossi, 1931, hand painted ceramic tiles on the facade of the Confraternity of Annunziata and Rosario (next door to the Chiesa San Giovanni) in Vietri sul Mare. Photo by New york Scugnizzo

Feast of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York

May 23, 2022

Feast of Sant’Eframo di Napoli

Sant'Eframo Vescovo, ora pro nobis
May 23rd is the Feast of Sant’Eframo (Sant’Efébo, St. Euphebius), Bishop of Naples, Thaumaturge and Martyr. One of the city’s co-patrons, the beloved saint enjoys a popular reputation of holiness and miracles among the Neapolitans. Once every hundred years his devotees carry his silver bust in procession from the Duomo di Napoli to the Chiesa Sant’Eframo Vecchio, where he was originally buried with San Massimo and San Fortunato. He is also commemorated on November 8th along with all the city’s Holy Bishops. 

In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to St. Euphebius. The accompanying photo, courtesy of Andrew Giordano, was taken at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Napoli. Evviva Sant'Eframo!


Prayer to St. Euphebius 


O Glorious St. Euphebius, 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

Feast of Beata Maria Crocifissa del Divino Amore

Beata Maria Gargani, ora pro nobis

May 23rd is the Feast of Beata Maria Crocifissa del Divino Amore (née Maria Gargani, 1892-1973), patroness of the Suore Apostole del Sacro Cuore di Gesù (Apostle Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), a religious order she founded on February 11, 1936. In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to Beata Maria Gargani in Italian. Evviva Beata Maria Crocifissa del Divino Amore!


Preghiera


Signore Gesù ascolta con bontà la nostra preghiera che implora grazia per intercessione della tua serva Beata Maria Gargani. Ella si è consumata costantemente nell’orazione e nel servizio ai fratelli più umili in luoghi anche disagiati. Se è nei tuoi disegni glorificala. Fa’ che sperimentiamo l’efficacia della sua intercessione affinché animati dal suo esempio possiamo servirti con spirito di fede e di amore. Amen

The Lesser Rogations

Photo by New York Scugnizzo

The Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday are the Lesser Rogation Days, or Litania Minor (Minor Litanies). First introduced in Gaul in the 5th century by St. Mamertus of Vienne to appease Our Lord and protect against natural disasters such as fire, earthquakes and blight, the three days in time became universal and helped prepare the faithful for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They were traditionally observed with fasting, abstinence, public prayer and solemn processions called litania because participants recited various litanies while processing around the parish. However, in 1601 Pope Clement VIII suppressed the public use of numerous invocations and the Litany of the Saints became the norm. Rogation is simply the English form of the Latin rogatio, which comes from the verb rogare, which means “to ask.”


April 25th is the Greater Rogations, or Litania Major (Major Litanies). Similarly, it is kept with fasting, processions and prayer. Dating back to pagan times, the ancient custom, like Ember Days, supplanted an old Roman festival (in this case the Robigalia) with a sanctified Christian observance. It was revitalized in the 6th century by St. Pope Gregory the Great to invoke God’s mercy and ask for a bountiful harvest.


In celebration, I’m posting the anthem and prayer for Rogation Days from Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book by Very Rev. Charles J. Callan, OP., S.T.M. and Very Rev. John A. McHugh, OP., S.T.M (Preserving Christian Publications, 2010). The accompanying photo of painted ceramic tiles depicting a procession was taken in Vietri Sul Mare, Salerno.


Prayer for Rogation Days


Ant. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you; for every one that sketch receiveth and he he that seekers finders, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

V. He heard my voice from His holy temple.

R. And my cry before Him came into His ears.


Let us pray

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that we, who in our affliction confide in Thy loving kindness, may be ever defended by Thy protection against all adversity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

High Mass for the Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia at Our Lady of Peace Church in Brooklyn, New York

Santa Rita da Cascia, ora pro nobis
After the traditional Latin Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, I visited the statues of a few familial and personal patrons, and prayed for our Prior, His Grace Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. Evviva Santa Rita da Cascia!

San Giovanni Battista, ora pro nobis
San Rocco di Montpellier, ora pro nobis
Santa Lucia, ora pro nobis

The Ascension of the Lord at St. Pius X Church in Fairfield, Connecticut

May 22, 2022

Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia

Santa Rita da Cascia, ora pro nobis
May 22nd is the Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia, Augustinian nun, Ascetic, Mystic, Stigmatic and “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. In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to St. Rita. The accompanying photo was taken at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 W 37th St.) in Manhattan. Evviva Santa Rita da Cascia!
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.

Remembering King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies

January 12, 1810 - May 22, 1859
In memory of King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies, we pray for the happy repose of his soul. Viva ‘o Rre!

Eternal rest grant unto His Majesty, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York

May 21, 2022

Feast of San Costantino il Grande

The Arch of Constantine in Rome. Situated between the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum, the triumphal arch was dedicated in 315 to commemorate the Emperor's victory over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milivian Bridge
In the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, May 21 is the Feast of St. Constantine the Great, Equal to the Apostles and Emperor. Once widely venerated across Southern Italy, the Emperor's cult has sadly diminished and become more localized. Patron saint of converts, he is also the patron of San Costantino Albanese in Provincia di Potenza in Basilicata and Capri Leone in Provincia di Messina in Sicily.

According to tradition, the night before his great victory over the usurper Maxentius at the Battle of the Milivian Bridge on October 12, 312 AD, Constantine dreamt of the Chi and the Rho (XP), the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, and heard a voice proclaim In Hoc Signo Vinces, which means “By this sign you will conquer.”
That morning the Emperor had a vision of the cross emanating from the light of the rising sun and commanded his men to paint the Chi and the Rho on their shields and his golden standard (labarum). As proclaimed in his dream, adopting the insignia of Christ he routed his enemy on the field of battle.

Soon after his great victory, the Emperor legalized Christianity with his famous Edict of Milan, thus ending 300 years of Christian persecution by the Romans. A great benefactor of the Faith, he granted privileges, built churches and convened the First Council of Nicaea. In 324 AD Constantine moved the Empire's capital from Rome to Byzantium, which was rechristened Constantinople. He was baptized on his deathbed in 337 AD.

In celebration, I’m posting the prayer to St. Constantine. The accompanying photo of the Arch of Constantine was taken during my 2007 pilgrimage to Rome. San Costantino il Grande, ora pro nobis.

Prayer to St. Constantine

O God, You who work in mysterious ways, we thank you for St. Constantine and the important role he played in the flourishing of the early Church. The proverb holds that You O Lord direct the heart of a good king and guide all his ways. Truly it was you, working through Constantine, that freed your Church from the unjust oppression it had lived under for centuries. May you direct the heart of world leaders still today, so that your Church may be free and kept safe from all harm. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Feast of the Madonna Della Fontana

Madonna della Fontana, ora pro nobis
May 21st is the Feast of the Madonna della Fontana (Our Lady of the Fountain), patroness of Spilinga, a small town in the Vibo Valentia Province of Calabria. In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to Our Lady of the Fountain in Italian. The 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. Evviva Madonna della Fontana!

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.

Novena to Santa Giovanna d’Arco (St. Joan of Arc)

St. Jeanne d'Arc, ora pro nobis
Pray novena for nine consecutive days, May 21st — 29th (Feast on May 30th)

Eternal Father, Thou gave us Saint Joan of Arc through Thine infinite love and mercy for us. We humbly ask Thee to send down Thine Holy Spirit upon us, as the intermediary by which the Word goes forth from Thy lips and reaches the ears of the faithful. Allow me to be a witness to Thy Son Jesus Christ just as Saint Joan of Arc was. O Lord Jesus, grant me the courage to do Thy will, that I may be in one accord with Our Father in Heaven. I thank Thee for the gift of Thy love, which I hope to one day fully understand.

Pray 19 times the Our Father, followed by “Saint Joan of Arc, by thy powerful intercession, hear and answer me.”

Saint Joan of Arc, patron of France, my patron saint, I ask thee now to fight this battle with me by prayer, just as thou led thy troops to victory in battle. Thou, who were filled with the Holy Spirit and chosen by God, help me this day with the favor I ask thee [intentions]. Grant me by thy divine and powerful intercession the courage and strength I need to endure this constant fight. O Saint Joan of Arc, help me to be victorious in the tasks God presents to me. I thank thee and ask thee for thy continuing protection of God’s people.


O sweet Saint Joan of Arc, plead for me before the throne of God Almighty that I may be deemed worthy to be granted the request I have asked. Help me Saint Joan, to be more like thee in the attempt to love Our Lord with my whole heart, soul and mind. Through thy guidance and prayer, help me to be a truly devout and loving Catholic, that I may both know and see the will of God. Help me now in my time of need Saint Joan. I ask that thou may always be near me guiding me closer each day to Jesus Christ, Our Lord. I give thee thanks for having heard my prayer. Amen.

 

Glorious Saint Joan of Arc, filled with compassion, for those who invoke thee, filled with love, for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I kneel at thy feet and humbly beg thee, to take my present need, under thy special protection. [Intentions] Grant to recommend it, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me, until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me, the grace to one day, meet God face to face, and with thee and Mary, and all the angels and saints, praise Him through all eternity. O most powerful Saint Joan of Arc, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to Heaven, forever and ever. Amen.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

* The accompanying photo was taken at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey.

May 19, 2022

Meridiunalata XXX: Abbrúsciala by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia

Reprinted from Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade, an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan/ English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010.*

Abbrúsciala 


Abbrúsciala
Sta lettera ca te sto screvenno, 

Mo ca stammo luntane, 

Manco 'o suonno
Nci'ha da aunì. 


Abbrúsciala
Int'a nu fuoco ardente, 

Miéttela llà mmiezo 

Int' 'o core d' 'e sciamme 

Ca nun fujesse. 


Abbrúsciala
E nun te ne ncarrecà chiù 

'E stu penziero
Ca nun maje nce avev' 'a stà 

Ma ca nc'è caduto. 


Abbrúsciala, 

Abbrúsciala...

Tu pe me. 


Burn It 

Burn it
This letter that I’m writing you, 

Now that we’re far apart,
Not even dreams
Can unite us. 


Burn it
In an ardent fire,
Put it there in the middle 

In the heart of the flames 

So that it not escape. 


Burn it
And don’t bother any more about 

This thought
Which shouldn’t have been
But which fell upon us. 


Burn it, 

Burn it... 

You for me. 


* Self-published in 2010, Meridiunalata/Southernade is a treasury of poems gleaned from Cav. Sant'Elia's previous collections (Nchiuso dint''o presente'A cuntrora, and 'O pino e l'éllera), which were circulated among friends in New York City and Naples. Special thanks to Cav. Sant'Elia for allowing us to reprint his poetry and translations.

The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation Upper Church in Crestwood, New York