August 24, 2014

Celebrating 125 Years of Devotion to San Rocco in New York City

Evviva San Rocco! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last Sunday (August 17th) I had the great honor of participating in the 125th Annual Feast of Saint Rocco in New York City. Mass was celebrated in English and Italian with Father Joseph F. Lorenzo at Saint Joseph's Church on the corner of Catherine and Monroe Streets. To everyone’s delight, the original papier-mâché statue with its new floral arch would be used in the celebration. Half hidden all these years in the shadowy nook at the rear left of the church I never realized how vibrant the statue was or that its eyes sparkled. Our beloved patron looked glorious at the front altar under a red canopy surrounded with flowers. Carried in the Procession for the first time in over 25 years, it was a privilege to be one of the lifters.

After Mass, the statue was brought out to the expectant crowd with much fanfare. With so many people pinning votive offerings onto the statue it took a little while before the Procession could get underway. In time we got started and made our long trek through Two Bridges, Knickerbocker Village and China Town towards Little Italy, occasionally stopping for donations.

As always, it was great to see our friends from the Saint Joseph Society of Lodi, New Jersey; the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata of Brooklyn, New York; the Gioiosa Marina Social Club of Brooklyn, New York; the Craco Society; the Monte San Giacomo Society of Hoboken, New Jersey; and the Madonna del Sacro Monte Novi Velia of Jersey City, New Jersey. Their support means a lot to us and is greatly appreciated.

In recent years, it has become customary to stop halfway to Little Italy by Vanella’s Funeral Chapel (29 Madison St.) for some refreshments. Graciously offered by the Tocci family, the wine usually gets people dancing in the streets.

Once we reached Mulberry Street and crossed Canal Street into bustling Little Italy our pace slowed down. After the benediction outside Most Precious Blood Church we stopped by the many businesses that supported the Feast, thanking each one with a song. We paused once again for some refreshments at Da Nico Ristorante (164 Mulberry St.) before hitting Broom Street. On our way back, we paid our respects at The Church of the Transfiguration and Saint James RC Church.

Back at Saint Joseph’s we returned San Rocco to his place of honor near the altar. Famished and ready to party we made our way to the church auditorium to continue the celebration. There was plenty of delicious food and drink options, generously provided by Joe Mancino, owner of Peppino’s Brick Oven Pizza and Restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

We were entertained during dinner by none other than our very own Marcantonio Pezzano with Stefano Monforte on keyboard. The duo performed a lively set of popular Neapolitan standards, including my favorite O’ surdato ‘nnammurato. They were followed by my dear friends Michela Musolino and John T. La Barbera, with special guest Phil Passantino, who put together an eclectic set of traditional folk songs from southern Italy. I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work and preparation they put into the show.

Getting late, the evening came to a close with the highly anticipated raffle drawings. After many laughs, we said our goodbyes looking forward to next year’s celebration. The Feast was a fitting memorial to our ancestors who brought with them their love and devotion to San Rocco.

I would like to thank President Stephen LaRocca and all the members of the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza for doing a fantastic job; the celebration was a huge success. They are a terrific group, dedicated to our faith and culture, and I’m proud to be counted among them. Evviva San Rocco! 
Putti in his hands: Robert Autorino helps prepare the statue
Leaving Saint Joseph's Church
A large crowd gathered for the festivities
Society president Stephen LaRocca sings a hymn to Saint Rocco
Devotees cover the statue with votive offerings
Members of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata
Members of the Saint Joseph Society
Members of the Gioiosa Marina Social Club
The color guard head down Monroe Street
The Procession makes its way around Knickerbocker Village
Tony and Son's Festival Band
(Left) Children help give out prayer cards and collect donations
(Right) The Procession heads towards Little Italy
The Tocci family generously provided beverages outside Vanella's Funeral Chapel
(Above and below) The Procession makes its way through Little Italy
Members carry u cinte (candle house)
After a long day, the Procession heads back to St. Joseph's Church for the party
Marcantonio Pezzano and Stefano Monforte
Phil Passantino, Michela Musolino and John T. La Barbera

August 22, 2014

Opening Night at the 2014 Santa Rosalia Feast, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Evviva Santa Rosalia! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
As I have done so many times before (and hope to do for years to come), I dropped by 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn yesterday for the opening of The Feast of Santa Rosalia. Making my way through the crowd to the outdoor chapel, I pinned my donation on to the Saint’s ribbons and picked up some prayer cards for my loved-ones.
Afterward, I met a few friends and we reminisced about better days. It saddens me to see how much the neighborhood has changed. Aside from the occasional visit to Caffe Italia, Little Records and Villabate Alba Pasticceria, there is little reason for me to return to my old stomping grounds; although I still come back every year to support the Feast.
Checking out this year’s food options, I found myself going back to my usual spot—Villabate. In my humble opinion, they make one of the best rice balls in Brooklyn. With Gino’s Focacceria now closed I wasn’t sure where I would get my customary panelle or vastedda sandwiches, but luckily for me I spotted Pete’s Zeppoles stand on the corner of 18th Avenue and 71st Street. Perfectly fried, with a squeeze of lemon on a fresh seeded roll—their panelle was fantastic!
Too full for dessert, I now have an excuse (not that I really needed one) to come back and try Pete’s zeppole, not to mention Villabate’s brioche con gelato and an espresso at Caffe Italia.
The celebration will run through August 31st! 
There will be a Procession from the chapel (18th Avenue & 72nd Street) at 2 PM on Sunday, August 31st. Mass will be celebrated at Santa Rosalia Church (6301 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11219) at 4 PM.
Panelle sandwich (above) from Pete's Zeppoles stand (below)
Arancini from Villabate Alba Pasticceria
Sfincione from Villabate Alba Pasticceria 
There was a large turnout Thursday night

A Look at the Sacred Image of Our Lady of Romitello, Whitestone, New York

The Sacred Image of Our Lady of Romitello
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Tuesday (Aug. 19th), I was finally able to go to Saint Luke's Church (16-34 Clintonville Street) in Whitestone, Queens and see the Sacred Image of Our Lady of Romitello. On loan from the Santuario Santa Maria Addolorata di Romitello near Borgetto, in the Province of Palermo, the painting was only on display from August 12th through August 22nd. 

Mass was celebrated in Italian with His Excellency, Archbishop Michele Pinnisi, D.D., from Monreale, Sicily. The ceremony included a touching renewal of marriage vows and the blessing of couples. Afterward, parishioners lined up to venerate the Pietà.

Later on, I made my way to the church auditorium for a spectacular performance by the Associazione "G. Catanzaro", a thirty-piece concert band from Borgetto. The young musicians were greeted with thunderous applause as they were introduced to the appreciative audience. Packed to the rafters, I was able to find a spot against the back wall and enjoy the show.

I would like to thank all the members of the Borgetto Cultural Association of Astoria and St. Luke's Parish for giving us this wonderful opportunity to see the sacred image. Evviva Maria!

A close up of the Sacred Image
(Above and below) A gift from the women's US congregation to be given to the shrine in Borgetto 
A view of the concert from the "Uecker Seats"

August 21, 2014

A Look at the 2014 La Conca di San Rocco in Astoria, Queens

Evviva San Rocco!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

This year, my friends and I celebrated the Feast Day of Saint Rocco in Astoria, Queens with the Orsogna Mutual Aid Society. Warmly welcomed, we were invited to partake in the festivities and share the day with them. 

Nearly 200 people returned to the old neighborhood to honor their beloved patron. It was a real treat to see some of the rites and customs of Orsogna, Chieti still performed, including the carrying of la conca (large copper pots) on the ladies' heads. Beautifully decorated with flags and flowers, the pots were traditionally used to carry water from a well or fountain back to their homes.

After the Procession we returned to the clubhouse for Mass, which was celebrated in Italian by Father Barozzi. This was followed by a wonderful dinner party with plenty of food, music and laughs. We want to thank President Antonio Ferrari and the members of Orsogna MAS for their kindness and hospitality; we had a terrific time.

Filomena Di Rico Fosco
The Procession makes its way down 18 Street
Some women carry la conca on their heads
To carry the Saint is a special honor 
The Color Guard lead the way
Michael Aromando and the Metropolitan Festival Band 
After the Procession la conca are placed at the foot of San Rocco
There was a fantastic turnout for the Feast
After Mass President Antonio Ferrari thanked everyone for their contributions

August 15, 2014

A Look at the 2014 Feast of the Giglio di Sant’Antonio, East Harlem, New York

The Giglio di Sant’Antonio 
Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
Thank you Bobby Maida for sharing your Feast photos with us! Disappointed I couldn’t make the celebration this year, I’m happy to see that everyone had a fantastic time. My friends told me I missed a great one; your pictures prove it. To see more of Bobby’s wonderful photos visit
After Mass, members of the Giglio Society of East Harlem return Saint Anthony to the outdoor chapel
(Above & below) Capo paranza Johnny Z is a whirlwind of passion & intensity
A labor of love and devotion
Proud Bruscianese!
Marching towards historic Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
Tenor Jimmy Alleva and the Giglio Band keep the giglio rockin’ 
(Above & Below) The Giglio Girls show their devotion to Saint Anthony
The giglio makes its way down East 115th Street 
A couple of lucky stowaways hitch a ride on the giglio
JoJo, Jehna and Jess show their support
A good time was had by all
Our pal Bobby, with one of his many admirers