September 24, 2012

Pix from the 10th Annual Saint Padre Pio Festival in Vineland, New Jersey

The statue of Saint Pio was prominently displayed inside Our Lady of Pompeii Church (4680 Dante Avenue)
By Giovanni di Napoli

Yesterday (Sept. 23, 2012), Il Regno and friends made a pilgrimage to Vineland, New Jersey to participate in the 10th annual Saint Padre Pio Festival at Our Lady of Pompeii Church. We celebrated Mass, mingled with celebrants and enjoyed the festivities.

After lunch, we explored the premises and discovered a nearby Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and replica of Mount Calvary. I ascended the shrine contemplating the first twelve Stations of the Cross. Beneath the structure are vaults with representations of Christ in Gethsemane and a Pieta. A crypt depicting the Entombment of Christ was a poignant reminder of Our Lord's Sacrifice.

Not counting everything else we enjoyed at the Feast, my time spent alone by the grotto in peace and tranquility was enough to make the trip worthwhile. It was nice to get out of the city for a while and enjoy a bit of sunshine, fresh air and reflection.
Fr. Ermelindo DiCapua, a Capuchin Friar and friend who lived with Padre Pio, carried the Saint's relic during the procession
After Mass, hundreds of devotees lined up to kiss the relic
After some difficulty deciding what to eat (due to the large selection of food to choose from) I eventually opted for some delicious porchetta
A look at Our Lady of Pompeii Church
Among the many statues gracing the church property were two of Saint Pio
A replica of Mount Calvary with a Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
Details of Mount Calvary include statues of Christ in Gethsemane and a Pieta

September 22, 2012

Pix from the 2012 Fiaccolata di San Pio in Westbury, Long Island

Padre Pio blessing his spiritual children
(Photos courtesy of Marcantonio Pezzano)
A look at yesterday's procession honoring San Pio di Pietrelcina sponsored by the Padre Pio Prayer Group of Westbury, Long Island.
Our Lady of Sorrows
Members of the Sant'Antonio di Padua Benevolent Association of Elmont, LI came out to honor Padre Pio
A Junior Franciscan
The ladies prepare to participate in the Fiaccolata
Another look at Saint Padre Pio
Our Lady of Good Counsel Band from Inwood, LI

September 21, 2012

A Day at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Horseman and dog (terracotta) from the Late Archaic period (c. 500 B.C.)
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

I meant to write this sooner, but my busy schedule wouldn't allow it. Now that I have some spare time, I'm sitting in front of my computer with a Manhattan Special and a couple of taralli determined to get it done. After scrolling through my photos, trying to decide which ones should accompany this post, I fondly remembered my recent visit to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

We went to the North End to unwind, but visiting the MFA was a priority and Friday was a good day to go because the museum stays open later on weekdays. For me, there is precious little more relaxing than meandering through the hallowed halls of a celebrated art institution and losing myself in its renowned collection for a while. After checking into our hotel and a short rest we made our way to the museum. 

Beginning with the Late Archaic Gallery (113), there were plenty of black-figure ceramic hydria and amphora from Greece and Magna Graecia on display. Seeing all the renderings of gods and heroes on the pottery was almost like looking at a storybook of Greek mythology. Fittingly, a marble bust of the poet Homer stood prominently in the center of the room. I was especially fond of a water jar attributed to the so-called Edinburgh Painter. Found in Capua, the vessel shows the Tyrian Princess Europa being carried off by a bull (Zeus) to Crete. 
(L-R) Homer (Late Hellenistic or Roman Imperial, about 50 B.C.—A.D. 50)
and a two-handled amphora (about 500-490 B.C.)
Next to a large bronze foot basin with wrestlers on its rim (found in Picene, but probably imported from Laconia or Southern Italy) was a magnificent terracotta sculpture group from Sicily depicting a horseman and his dog [See photo top]. Discovered in a grave of a young man, the work is believed to be a votive offering.
Athlete crowning himself (bronze) from the early Classical period
(c. 470 B.C.). Said to have been found in Croton, Southern Italy
Moving to the Early Classical period we find fragments of a pediment and volutes from two Ionic capitals from the façade of a small shrine or funerary monument in Southern Italy, possibly Locri. A small bronze figurine of an athlete crowning himself can be found in the back of the gallery. Said to be from Croton, the statuette was a support for a mirror.
Hermaphrodite (marble) from Roman,
early Imperial period (about 20 B.C. — A.D. 40) 
In the Egypt: Late Period Gallery (216) we found a fascinating marble statue of Hermaphrodite wearing an Egyptian style headdress. The offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite, the deity possesses both male and female sexual attributes. Sometimes depicted holding Cupid (remnants of the god of desire can still be seen), the apotropaic statue was also given a nurturing aspect. The work was discovered in the Villa of the Contrada Bottaro near Pompeii.
Harpsichord (maple case), probably Naples, about 1550
Next to Art of the Ancient World was the Musical Instruments Gallery (103d). Among the assortment of instruments crammed into this small room were two important pieces from Naples. The first was a harpsichord with a maple case. Dating from the 16th century, the instrument is one of the earliest known surviving harpsichords. The second was a mandolin made with maple, spruce, ebony, ivory and tortoiseshell. Vincenzo Vinaccia, a member of the famed Neapolitan family of luthiers, created it in 1771. Considering Naples' storied musical past, one can only imagine the beautiful music they once played.
Mandolin (maple, spruce, tortoiseshell, ivory, ebony),
made by Vincenzo Vinaccia (active 1769-1785), Naples, 1771
The adjoining Jewelry Gallery (104) was filled with many brilliant baubles, but a coral and gold revivalist jewelry suite from Naples caught my eye. Inspired by the new archaeological discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the necklace, brooch and earrings incorporate motifs from the Classical world, including Bacchus the god of wine. They reminded me of some of the more intricate (and pricey) coral jewelry I saw in Torre del Greco while shopping for a cameo and cornuta
Coral revivalist jewelry suite (gold and coral), Naples, about 1840-1860
After a short coffee break and purchasing a few postcards from the gift shop to send family and friends back home, we continued our exploration. Making our way through the Art of Europe galleries, we saw many incredible paintings and sculptures from a number of Europe's greatest masters, some of which included a series of soft-paste porcelain figurines from the Capodimonte manufactory in Naples. I really liked a canvas by Joseph Wright of Derby depicting a Grotto by the Seaside in the Kingdom of Naples with Banditti, Sunset. Painted in 1778, the work was inspired by the Englishman's visit to Naples and Salerno while on his Grand Tour.  
Grotto by the Seaside in the Kingdom of Naples with Banditti, Sunset, 1778
(oil on Canvas) by Joseph Wright of Derby (English, 1734-1797)
In the Catalonian Chapel Gallery (254a) housing an amazing 12th century fresco of Christ in Majesty (from the apse of a small church in the Pyrenees) were two exquisite ivory oliphants from Southern Italy. Through its contacts with the Islamic world, African elephant ivory was imported into the Regno during the early years of Norman rule and fashioned by carvers and epigraphers into delicate household and religious devices (combs, jewelry boxes, croziers, etc.). In the case of these horns, they were meant to demonstrate the owners’ opulence or martial prowess. Purely decorative, they were not used in war or for the hunt. 
The Oliphant on the left is probably from Amalfi (c. 1100).
The one on the right is from Sicily or Salerno and dates from the 11th century
Unluckily, a few exhibition rooms were temporarily closed for renovations, further limiting the space available to exhibit the museum's vast collection. Among the paintings from Southern Italy not on view were Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Massimo Stanzione and The Virgin Presenting the Portrait of Saint Dominic to the Friar of Soriano by Francesco de Mura. In addition, there were four canvases by Luca Giordano out of circulation: The Entombment of Christ, Apollo in his Chariot, The Communion of the Apostles and Venus Giving Arms to Aeneas. It should be noted that there is a possibility these paintings are out on loan or perhaps too fragile for public display.

Thankfully, Giordano's King Tiridates Before Saint Gregory the Armenian was on view in the Robert and Ruth Remis Gallery (244). Without a doubt the highlight of my visit, this small canvas depicts cruel King Tiridates of Armenia with a head of a boar kneeling before Saint Gregory the Illuminator. According to legend the King was cursed for executing a group of virgin nuns who refused his lecherous advances. Miraculously healed by Saint Gregory, Tiridates converted, thus making Armenia the first nation to officially adopt Christianity.
King Tiridates Before Saint Gregory the Armenian (oil on canvas)
by Luca Giordano (Neapolitan, 1634-1705)
While I did not get to see everything I wanted to (the museum needs more than a day to take in properly) I did see more than enough to temporarily sate my appetite for fine art. With its enviable collection of artwork, including an eclectic selection from Southern Italy, the MFA is a must see for anyone visiting this wonderful city.

September 20, 2012

Pix from the 2012 San Gennaro Procession

Viva San Gennaro!
Bust of the Patron Saint of Naples inside Most Precious Blood Church
The statue of San Gennaro used in the procession
After Mass the procession departed from the Church
The standard bearer leads the way
The procession makes its way through the streets of Little Italy
We bumped into our friend Marcantonio at the Feast
While my pizza was cooking I had the pleasure of meeting Carissa, Lauren and Alex, who were celebrating their heritage at the Feast
My friend and I enjoyed a white pie
from Rubirosa Ristorante (235 Mulberry Street)
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

September 16, 2012

Pix from the 2012 San Gennaro Parade

Viva San Gennaro!
A dazzling bust of the Saint inside Most Precious Blood Church
By Giovanni Di Napoli

Yesterday, I paid a visit to the San Gennaro Feast (Sept. 13-23) in New York City's historic Little Italy. Making my way through the crowd, I met some friends, had a few laughs and ate my fill. Luckily, we found a nice shady spot to relax for awhile and watched the parade pass by.

Afterward, I dropped by the Italian American Museum (155 Mulberry Street) to see the current photo exhibit, Visions of Little Italy, c. 1970. Unfortunately, I missed John E. Rossi's lecture, but by the looks of his photographs it must have been very entertaining. The Rossi's have been a fixture in the neighborhood for as long as I can remember, so I'm sure he had a lot of interesting stories to share. I really enjoyed seeing the old black-and-white photos, they reminded me of a time when Little Italy was a little more Italian and a lot less commercial. 

The museum is also showing a short documentary film on the San Gennaro Feast in Naples. In my view, it's definitely worth a look.

This Wednesday (Sept. 19) is San Gennaro's official Feast Day, so don't miss the celebratory Mass at Most Precious Blood Church (5PM) and the procession through the streets of Little Italy (6PM).

Devotees offer donations at the shrine erected outside the Church 
Italian American Museum Founder and President Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa lends a hand at Caffé Palermo's cannoli stand outside the museum 
While Dr. Scelsa was busy manning the cannoli, Jennifer and Kathleen were holding down the fort inside the Italian American Museum
Even though there are dozens of sausage stands to choose from, I'm partial to Cuzzin Vinny's
A Cuzzin Vinny masterpiece: pork braciola with peppers and onions on a hero 
After lunch I couldn't resist having an espresso and dessert at Stuffed Artisan Cannolis
Guest of Honor Connie Francis and friends led the motorcade down Mulberry Street
This year's Grand Marshal was New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli 
Opera sensation Cristina Fontanelli did rousing renditions of God Bless America and O Sole Mio
Members of Figli di San Gennaro and the procession make their way back to Most Precious Blood Church
A look inside beautiful Most Precious Blood Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

September 15, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Madonna Addolorata, Ravello
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
September 15th is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. I'm commemorating the occasion by reprinting "For the Sorrowful Lady" (Pi l'Addulurata), a prayer from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.(*) The accompanying photos of Madonna Addolorata was taken during my 2010 pilgrimage to Southern Italy. 

Madonna Addolorata, Sorrento
For the Sorrowful Lady

Of God you heavenly queen
Oh Mother in grief immersed
By you my soul be possessed
And from you a favor granted.

This ungrateful heart is ready
To be wounded and impaled
By your very holy sword.

Throughout my whole life
With sinning I delighted,
Now with sorrow weeping
Of my sins I am repenting,
I no longer want to sin
Better dead and by you consoled.

When to heaven your body ascends
With the precious power you hold
Shows its purity and its might
Mother forever hold me tight.

You must keep your eyes on me
As a mother watchful be,
If to us you are committed
God his pardon will provide
By this rosary that we recite
Glory we expect in paradise.

Who recites it three times a day
In high heaven with Mary will stay,
When at night three times is recited
From painful death one is released.

When for forty days is supplicated
From hell's pain one is liberated.
And who will proffer in sincere devotion
Prays a "credo" to his death and Passion.

(*) Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas 2009, p.113-114