October 31, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy

After Mass, celebrants pose for a group photo
Photos courtesy of John Cordi and Patrizia Esposito
Friday night, my friends and I joined scores of pilgrims at Most Precious Blood Church in Little Italy to celebrate Solemn High Mass for the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude. Possibly, not since 1969 has Latin Mass been celebrated at Most Precious Blood, but amazingly there have been three well attended masses in the last few weeks at the church.*
Mass was sung by celebrant and homilist Fr. Richard Cipolla, Pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was assisted by deacon Fr. Robert Rodriguez, subdeacon Mr. James Barrett and several dutiful altar servers. Cavalieri John Napoli, Charles Sant’Elia and Vice Chancellor Patrick O’Boyle of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George served as Knights in Attendance.
God bless the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, especially Stuart and Jill Chessman, for sponsoring the Mass and their tireless efforts to promote Traditional Latin Mass. Evviva Santi Simone e Giuda!
* In addition to Saints. Simon and Jude, Latin Mass was celebrated at Most Precious Blood Church for the Feast of San Gennaro on Sept. 24th and for the Feast of San Michele Arcangelo on Sept. 29th.
Cav. John Napoli venerating San Vincenzo Martire di Craco
Cavalieri Charles Sant'Elia and Napoli unfurl the flag of
the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies before San Gennaro
Members of the San Rocco Society of Potenza gather around their beloved patron

Photo of the Week: A Fragment of a Terracotta Gorgon Head

Terracotta Gorgon head at the Paestum National Archaeological Museum
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

October 29, 2016

Patrizio Buanne Brings Down the House at the Highline Ballroom in New York City

Patrizio Buanne at the Highline Ballroom
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Patrizio Buanne triumphantly returned to New York City last Saturday (Oct. 22nd) with a spectacular performance at the Highline Ballroom. Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his first PBS sell out tour, the show was the culmination of the North American leg of his 5th World Tour. 
As the usher brought us to our private booth, I could definitely sense we were in for something special. The capacity crowd of about 500 (mostly swooning female) fans was buzzing with excitement in anticipation for the great Neapolitan pop crooner. 
The multiplatinum recording artist is used to filling arenas around the world, so by his standards this was a small venue. While there is certainly something epic about large stadium concerts, I always preferred the intimacy of smaller shows. In addition to generally sounding better, there is an undeniable energy shared between the audience and artists.
Taking the stage to thunderous applause, Patrizio kicked off with a rollicking cover of Renato Carasone’s 1956 classic, Americano (Tu vuo’ fa l’ Americano). Putting in solid performances of many of his greatest hits, as well as songs from his latest album "Viva La Dolce Vita," his setlist included Parla piu piano, Luna Mezz ‘O Mare, Charlie Chaplin's Smile and, of course, his showstopper Il Mondo.
Between songs, Patrizio made us laugh with amusing quips and funny anecdotes. While talking about Engelbert Humperdink, Tom Jones and other childhood influences, he did some spot on impersonations of Axl Rose, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and “The King,” Elvis Presley. He capped off his tribute to Italian American singers (Tony Bennet, Connie Francis, etc.) with Shake the Spaghetti, a jocose ditty he wrote when he was only seventeen-years-old.
Clearly proud of his southern Italian roots, Patrizio spoke glowingly about the pre-unification Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the everlasting pride and joy of southern Italians everywhere. For his encore, the Neapolitan even wore his patented Salvatore Argenio masterpiece, a custom made silk shirt emblazoned with the coat-of-arms of the Royal House of BourbonTwo Sicilies. 
To the delight of his adoring fans, Patrizio promised to sign autographs and take pictures with anyone who wanted to meet him after the show. True to his word, the artist came out and met with a legion of admirers, thanking each and every one. Considering they are mostly attractive, gushing women, this may not be as laborious as it seems. "It's a hard job," joked the singer, "but somebody has to do it."

Patrizio is the quintessential professional, a talented entertainer and a true gentleman. I had a fantastic time and look forward to his return. 
Patrizio performed many fan favorites
Halfway through the show, special guest and longtime friend Karen King joined Patrizio on stage with her band for a duet and a few songs
Tickling the ivories: In addition to being an accomplished singer, the multitalented artist jumped on the keyboard and played guitar for a few songs
Wailing on the guitar
Always the romantic, the dashing Neapolitan offers a kiss on the hand and roses to several lucky ladies without ever missing a beat
Patrizio literally wears his heart on his sleeve
A couple of very happy fans show off their southern Italian pride
After the show, Patrizio meets with his many admirers 
There is no doubt where Patrizio's loyalties lie

October 27, 2016

Viva San Vincenzo! A Look at the 115th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City

Viva San Vincenzo Martire!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
About 60 members and friends of the Craco Society made the trek to Little Italy Sunday, October 23rd for the 115th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City. This year, the society unveiled a new memorial plaque on the side of the wooden case bearing the reclining statue and first-class relic of the saint. Mass was celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Nicholas Grieco and Rev. Fr. Nicholas Mormando, both of Cracotan descent. As always, Cantor Susan Mello was superb. 
Afterward, celebrants adjourned to nearby Forlini’s Restaurant for a delightful luncheon with plenty of food, drink and lighthearted merriment. For me, the highlight of the meal was, of course, Salvatore Francavilla’s spectacular homemade limoncello
I want to thank Fred Spero, Stephen La Rocca and all the members of the Craco Society who worked so hard to make this year’s celebration a huge success. Touched by your seemingly inexhaustible warmth and generosity, it truly is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this glorious tradition. Viva San Vincenzo!
The new memorial plaque 
(Left) The antique banner has been mended and will be stored in an acid-free preservation box for posterity. (Right) Offerings are pinned on to the statue 
Devotees pin donations on to the 1930s era statue of San Vincenzo
After Mass, our friends Fred Spero and Fr. Nicholas Mormando
present the relic of San Vincenzo Martire for veneration
Another look at the 1901 statue of San Vincenzo
Partygoers pack into Forlini's Restaurant for the celebratory meal
Msgr. Grieco says grace before lunch
(Left) During the festivities, Robert Rubertone delivers his welcome address. (Right) Our pal Salvatore Francavilla with a handful of diavolicchio
For those of us who like our food spicy,
Stephen La Rocca shared some of his homegrown hot peppers
Three stalks of wheat, the symbol of Craco, were given to attendees

October 26, 2016

Pontifical Solemn Mass at the Faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider

(L-R) Cav. Vito Totino, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, Cavalieri John Napoli, Thomas Portelli, Vincent Gangone, Anthony O’Boyle and Charles Sant’Elia, Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George
Monday, October 24, New York City — My confratelli and I had the great privilege of serving as honor guard for the Pontifical Solemn Mass at the faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan at Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan. Coordinated by the Emperor Karl League of Prayers and several Traditional Knights of Columbus councils, Bishop Schneider will complete his visit of the Northeast with an evening lecture and Solemn Pontifical Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville, Ohio on Thursday, October 27th at 10:00AM.
(Above and below) Pontifical Solemn Mass at the faldstool with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

October 25, 2016

Black Tie, White Cross

Knights of Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George Attend New York City's White Cross Ball
Cavs. Charles Sant'Elia & Anthony O'Boyle
Friday, October 21, New York City — My confratelli Cavalieri Charles Sant'Elia, Anthony O'Boyle, Anthony Schembri and Dama Margaret Maledy of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George joined the Young Knights and Dames of the NYC Junior Committee of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for the 2nd Annual White Cross Ball. Benefitting the works of the Order in service to the sick and the poor, hundreds of young Knights, Dames and their special guests were in attendance. Held at New York City’s historic Metropolitan Club, partygoers enjoyed a lavish dinner before convening to the dance floor for cocktails, hobnobbing and, of course, dancing. Bravo Cav. Michael Espiritu and all the organizers for your hard work and dedication, the White Cross Ball is quickly establishing itself as one of New York City’s premier fundraising events of the year.

October 24, 2016

Photo of the Week: The Relic of San Vincenzo Martire in Craco

Grazie mille Karen Haid for sharing your wonderful photo of the relic of San Vincenzo Martire in Craco, Basilicata. Exhumed from the cemetery of St. Ciriaca in Rome, the waxen body and “flask of blood" of the Martyr was installed in the St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Friary in Craco on April 4, 1793. The relic was relocated in the late 1980's when structural instability required it to be moved to its current home, a small chapel in the Sant'Angelo section of Craco.

October 22, 2016

Most Precious Blood Church: An Appreciation

Collection of relics in the sacristy
By Giovanni di Napoli
Since the closing of St. Joseph’s Church (5 Monroe St.) and the moving of St. Rocco to Most Precious Blood Church (113 Baxter St.) in Little Italy, I’ve developed a pleasant rapport with parish staff and clergy, as well as an affinity to the storied church and it’s enviable collection of southern Italian religious art. Nineteen paintings by Avellinese artist Donatus Buongiorno (1865-1935), a replica bust of San Gennaro, a reclining statue of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco, and a phenomenal papier-mâché statue of San Rocco di Potenza (not to mention the one of a kind Neapolitan presepio) are among the many treasures on display.
Perhaps more impressive than the artwork, the church also possesses a number of first-class relics. In addition to a splinter of the True Cross they have bone fragments of San Gennaro, Sant’Antonio di Padova, San Francesco d’Assisi, San Vincenzo Martire and St. Jude Thaddeus. Safely tucked away in the sacristy, I was given access last Friday (while Dr. Andrea Bartoli and members of the Comunità di Sant'Egidio were setting up for their weekly evening prayer meeting) by Most Precious Blood Church Project Manager Bill Russo for a unique opportunity to venerate the relics.  
Relic of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco
Completely unexpected, I jumped at the chance to profess my faith and commune with the saints. Praying for my ancestors, I kissed (and wiped with my handkerchief) each reliquary. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I finished up quickly, but not without taking a few quick photographs for posterity. It goes without saying I was completely awed by the whole experience. 
Personally, Most Precious Blood Church has been a godsend. Along with being the longtime home to the Feasts of San Gennaro, Sant’ Antonio di Padova, Blessed Angelo d’Acri, and Saints Cosma and Damiano, it has recently taken in the Feasts of San Rocco and San Vincenzo Martire. When others were unwilling, or unable, it gave a home to the beautiful statue of the Madonna delle Grazie, patroness of Santa Caterina Villarmosa, Sicily and the icon of the Madonna di Ripalta, patroness of Cerignola, Apulia. 

Thanks to its late hours, the church has also given my confratelli and I a place to come together after work to pray, meditate and light votive candles. What's more, it let me fulfill my vow and sponsor a Traditional Latin Mass in honor of San Michele Arcangelo.
I pray others in our community recognize and appreciate the importance of this church and support its many efforts to promote our faith and culture. On top of the regularly scheduled events, plans to celebrate Saints Simon and Jude, Santa Lucia, San Francesco di Paola, San Calogero, Santa Cecilia, and others, are in the works, so there will be no shortage of opportunities to do so.
(L) Relic of the True Cross. (R) Relic of San Francesco d'Assisi
(L) Relic of Sant'Antonio di Padova. (R) Relic of San Gennaro

October 21, 2016

The Black Cats NYC EP/CD Release Party

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
“Come Along for the Ride”

AHPresents: Gone! The Black Cats NYC EP/CD Release Party!

Friday, October 28th @ 7PM–3AM

Sidewalk NYC
94 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009

Everyone at AHPresents LOVES The Black Cats NYC (i Gatti Neri NYC) and couldn't be more excited to hear their brand spanking new CD, produced by the one and only Alan Rand. Come on out and help celebrate this huge milestone for our great friends with rock all night long.

7pm - Marloween Takez Manhattan & The Brooklyn Horns
8pm - Alan Merrill Trio
9pm - The Lord Calverts
10pm - The BLACK CATS NYC CD Release!!!!
11pm - Red Gretchen
Midnight - King Bee & the Stingers

As always, admission is free and all ages are welcome (bring your mama!) We pass the tip jar for bands, so PLEASE be generous. And DEFINITELY wear your dancing shoes. You won't regret it.


October 20, 2016

A Look at the 117th Annual Feast of Saint Gerard Marjella in Newark, New Jersey

Evviva San Gerardo! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Sunday, my friends and I joined thousands of other pilgrims at the 117th Annual Feast of San Gerardo Maiella at Saint Lucy's Church, the national shrine of Saint Gerard, in Newark, New Jersey. Still one of my all-time favorite feast, I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the men and women of St. Lucy's Church for their hard work and giving us this wonderful opportunity to celebrate our faith and our culture. Viva San Gerardo!
After the National Anthem, a standard bearer heralds the arrival of the saint
San Gerardo emerges from St. Lucy's Church with much fanfare
It's always great to see our friends from the St. Joseph Society of Lodi, NJ
(Above & below) Unable to attend the Fiaccolata di San Rocco in Astoria, Queens the night before, I was delighted to see our dear friends from the Societá Gioventú Quagliettana. Buon Onomastico to our buddy Gerard!
(Above & below) devotees make generous offerings
(Above & below) large capes of money are wrapped around the Saint
Our pals Paul and Frankie at Buon Antipasto
While waiting for the procession to start, I enjoyed the live entertainment
and a delicious hot sausage and peppers sandwich
After a couple of hours of pinning money on to the statue, the procession left the parade grounds and slowly made its way through the neighborhood
Devotees lined the procession route with their offerings