February 28, 2017

Days of Remembrance in Gaeta, City of Memory

Participants carry the flag blessed in Polignano to the Carlo V Battery
Photos courtesy of the Comitati delle Due Sicilie and Don Massimo Cuofano
By Cav. Charles Sant’Elia
This year the annual events commemorating the siege of Gaeta (February 10-13, 2017), which marked the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, took on added meaning as it also marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Comitati delle Due Sicilie, and included the abundant participation of many groups and associations from the Two Sicilies community. Among the many dedicated Neobourbonists were local Gaeta author Antonio Ciano, Neobourbon movement founding fathers and leaders Gennaro De Crescenzo and Fiore Marro, and the founders of The Francesco II di Borbone Foundation, Don Luciano Rotolo and Don Massimo Cuofano.
The siege of Gaeta began in September 1860 and found the brave people of Gaeta, HM King Francesco II and HM Queen Maria Sofia, the Royal Army, and many brave students of the Nunziatella military academy, united with volunteers, heroically defending the Kingdom in the final battles before its fall. Thus Gaeta forever became the “city of memory,” significant for our people’s identity. Echoing the cry of the Nunziatella students and the volunteers who shouted “We’ll see each other in Gaeta!,” as they departed from around the Kingdom, every year men and women from around the historic territories of the Kingdom gather to honor the fallen and to celebrate the national identity.
The Tiragliatori Borbonici (Bourbon Sharpshooters) led by Captain Alessandro Romano executing the lowering of the flag in honor of the Fallen
This year hundreds of individuals and organized groups decided to bring bricks and stones, as well as soil and flowers from every corner of the former Kingdom and united them to visually and tangibly commemorate the fallen and give back a voice to all those who suffered and died as a consequence of the invasion of the Kingdom, while uniting to build a better future for the descendants of the survivors of that turbulent time.
Don Massimo Cuofano of the Francesco II di Borbone Foundation
presents a brick for Montefalcione
This sizable commemoration was the fruit of much hard work and represented a major step forward in restoring national identity and pride, with so many groups from the various regions united in one common effort. A special flag previously blessed by HRH don Alessandro di Borbone Due Sicilie during the flag blessing celebration held in Polignano, Puglia on December 11, 2016, and which covered the altar during mass, was flown over Gaeta. In agreement with all of the Two Sicilies groups and movements, under the aegis of the Francesco II di Borbone Foundation and its clergy members, the National Flag was blessed at a mass commemorating all of the deceased members of the Royal House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies as a sign of unity with the Royal House of the Bourbon of the Two Sicilies and its head, HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone delle Due Sicilie, Duca di Castro, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, and all friends and supporters.
Fiore Marro of the Movimento Neoborbonico
presents a brick for Fagnano Castello
On February 10, 2017 by the late morning the city of Gaeta’s streets were filled with Two Sicilies flags as hundreds went to attend the Convention, with local historical writer Antonio Ciano in the forefront and on the walls of the city. Stands and booths with informational flyers and books, prints and pictures were set out for visitors. At 5:00 pm all of the various groups gathered together to present their initiatives and undertakings, coordinated by Prof. Gennaro de Crescenzo.
Chiara Foti presents a brick for Palermo
February 11, 2017, Our Lady of Lourdes feast day, also holds special significance for the people of the Two Sicilies who show devotion to the Immaculate Conception, including King Francesco II, who felt himself drawn to Lourdes, where he went twice on pilgrimage. Many participants also enjoyed guided tours that morning, such as the Angevin Castle and sites in the heart of the Fortress of Gaeta, where the two beloved Monarchs lead the defense of the city and of the Kingdom. A second guided tour included the local churches and neighborhoods. There was also a presentation of the book “Il Reggimento Real Marina” by Salvatore Carreca.
A stirring moment of the afternoon occurred when the various groups gathered in the piazza in front of the Serapo Hotel to begin the pilgrimage to the upper part of the Carlo V Battery, with hundreds of raised flags joining the flag blessed in Polignano, which was carried by two delegates of the Francesco II Foundation, a girl from the Neobourbon Movement, a woman from the Movimento Duosiciliano and a young man from the Comitati Due Sicilie. This pilgrimage was led by Pino Aprile, who was the promoter of this initiative whereby the first bricks of the “Monument for the Memory of the Peoples of the Two Sicilies” were lovingly brought to Gaeta. Upon these bricks were inscribed the names of the many cities destroyed during the occupation and sacking of the invading Piedmontese army. During the placing of the bricks the anthem of the Two Sicilies by Paisiello was performed by the Real Cappella Napolitana. Verses dedicated to the homeland written by Roman Delegate Carlangelo Schillimà Chiarandà were added to the anthem.
Flowers and earth from across the south
were placed on the future site of the monument
Before the placing of the bricks, the actor Angelantonio Aversana read excerpts about all of the destroyed cities from Pino Aprile’s last book Carnefici. All of the delegates and friends of the South from all of the associations and movements then placed their bricks and flowers on the future site of the monument. The ceremony concluded with Father Massimo Cuofano and Father Luciano Rotolo of the Francis II Foundation blessing the bricks, and the Tiragliatori Borbonici (Bourbon Sharpshooters) led by Captain Alessandro Romano executing the lowering of the flag in honor of the Fallen.
At 5:30 in the evening in the banquet hall of the Hotel Serapo, the convention dedicated to the topic of “From Memory to Identity” began. Gennaro De Crescenzo coordinated the work on this meeting. Nobile attorney Franco Ciufo of the Associazione Italiana Cavalieri Costantiniani greeted the participants and authorities present before the presentations.
Honoring the memory of the fallen with song
Pino Aprile presented reflections upon the meaning of the “Un Mattone e un Fiore” (A Brick and a Flower) event; Marina Carrese of the publishing house “Il Giglio” presented the special re-edition of the work on the history of the Two Sicilies by Giacinto De’ Sivo, reporting on the theme: “De’ Sivo and the memory of the South;” Fiore Marro president of the Comitati Due Sicilie addressed the “places of remembrance;” Pino Marino of Daunia Due Sicilie, presented “Briganti, memories and film”. This interesting convention was enriched by the presence of Eddy Napoli, who sang several of his songs, including the well-known “Malaunità.” The evening concluded with a performance by compatriot Povia, with his moving “A Sud.”
The evening concluded with the Comitati Due Sicilie (Two Sicilies Committees) celebrating their first 10 years with a banquet and the personal greetings of President Fiore Marro, who also presented awards of recognition. The Real Cappella Napolitana also performed the National Anthem and several Neapolitan villanelles.
Bricks from towns throughout the south
The third and final day, Sunday February 12th, was celebrated as a moment of faith and commemoration. At 9:30 in the morning participants gathered at the Santuario della Montagna Spaccata, where Holy Mass was celebrated by Don Natalino Di Rienzo, who in his homily discussed the Gospel roots of our need for truth also in the remembrance of those who gave their lives to defend the Fatherland and the Faith. Don Luciano Rotolo and Don Masssimo Cuofano concelebrated. After Mass Avv. Franco Ciufo, recalled the defenders of Gaeta in 1860-61 and thanked the numerous participants. Don Massimo Cuofano, after a brief introduction, led the prayer for the beatification of HM Francesco II of Bourbon Two Sicilies.
Before leaving the Church Don Luciano Rotolo delivered to the Bourbon squadron the flag blessed in Polignano by Don Alessandro di Borbone, and the participants returned to the “Batteria Carlo V,” for the raising of the flag, in honor of the heroes of Gaeta, to remind all that the Homeland of the Two Sicilies is ever present and alive. With this the commemoration events concluded and the participants bid each other farewell, agreeing to reconvene next year.
The participants and Il Regno extend heartfelt thanks to HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone Due Sicilie, who himself sent thanks to the organizers and participants (see addendum below), the Associazione Nazionale dei Cavalieri Costantiniani d’Italia, author Pino Aprile, Gennaro De Crescenzo and the Movimento Neoborbonico, the Fondazione il Giglio, Fiore Marro and the members of the Comitati Due Sicilie, Michele Ladisa and the Movimento Duosiciliano, the Zavaglia brothers and the Gioiosa Jonica group, Captain Alessandro Romano and the Rete Due Sicilie, Davide Brandi and the Lazzari e Briganti group, the Daunia Due Sicilie group, the “Le Ali di Checco” association, Carlo Capezzuto, Matteo Vaia of the Bottega delle Due Sicilie, Two Sicilies fashion stylist Salvatore Argenio and his wife Annamaria Pisapia, the choral group Real Cappella Napolitana, Angelantonio Aversana, Eddy Napoli and Giuseppe Povia, and the numerous members of the participating organizations, friends and supporters of the Two Sicilies community.
Addendum: Translated thank-you letter from HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone Due Sicilie
To the Movimento Neobornico
To the Mayor of the Comune di Gaeta and to the Authorities and mayors present
To the Fondazione Il Giglio
To the Comitati Due Sicilie
To Dr. Pino Aprile
To the Associations that have participated in the Days of Remembrance:
Fondazione Francesco II di Borbone, Daunia Due Sicilie, Tesori dell’Arte, Osservatorio delle Due Sicilie, Meridem, Milites Luci, Imago Historiae, Terraurunca, Passato e Futuro Onlus, Ilnuovsud.it, Rete delle Due Sicilie, Comitato Studi Storici Meridionali, Associazione Due Siclie Gioiosa Jonica, Terroni di Pino Aprile, Siamo Tutti Briganti, Rivista Il Brigante, Briganti della Magna Grecia, Parlamentoduesicilie.it, Lazzari e Briganti, Le Ali di Checco, Bottega delle Due Sicilie, MBL Musicisti Basso Lazio, Agorà di Volcei Buccino. 
Memory is a fundamental part of entire communities and of entire populations. In not just Italian history memory has been and is the basis of the success of those communities and those populations.

For this reason the manifestation underway in Gaeta, the Day of Remembrance of the 13 February with the celebrations of these days and the monument to history’s vanquished and for the Two Sicilies are important and not just from the cultural aspect.

My family, in the memory of the heroes of Gaeta the day that you are all celebrating, greets with affection the organizers and participants. In the hope of continuing, also together, this precious rebuilding of memories and of pride as a symbol of historical truth, of mutual respect, and of the sharing of values and of traditions ever so current.

In the certainty that memory, thanks to all of you and to work carried out in these years, is finally “finding again its pages, its dates and its places” and from there future generations could set out towards a future ever more worthy of our great past.
Duke of Castro

February 26, 2017

Music and Voices Concert Series at Most Precious Blood Church in NYC’s Historic Little Italy

John T. La Barbera and Nando Citarella with San Gennaro
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Since the closing of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy and the shortening of church hours (doors now close at 6pm), my visits to the Shrine Church of Most Precious Blood in NYC’s historic Little Italy has been considerably reduced. So when I had the opportunity to attend the church’s monthly “Music & Voices” concert series Thursday evening, I jumped at the opportunity. 
As always, our pal Bill Russo was a gracious host
Master of Ceremonies and organizer Bill Russo warmly welcomed guests and kicked off the festivities with a brief, but interesting, talk about the history of the church and neighborhood.  
(L-R) Michelle DellaFave, Aviva Jaye, Katherine Appello and Kim Kalesti
Multi talented Music Director Kim Kalesti was joined by vocalists Katherine Appello, Aviva Jaye and Michelle DellaFave. The ensemble sang “I’m just gonna to share my love with you" and "It wasn’t nobody's fault.”
Musician-singer-actor-folklorist-teacher Nando Citarella
As luck would have it, the incomparable Nando Citarella was visiting from Italy with his family and joined headliners John T. La Barbera and Jennifer Stigliani-Bowen onstage for the highly anticipated show. 
Internationally renowned guitar virtuoso John T. La Barbera
John and Jennifer began their set with a fantastic rendition of the ancient Greek “Seikilos Epitaph,” or “Song of Seikilos.” Dating from the first century, it is the oldest known complete musical composition.
Vocalist Jennifer Stigliani-Bowen also played the zither and castanets
The trio performed several traditional folk songs from southern Italy, including the lively “Tamapizzicà” and, my favorite, “A San Michè.”
Nando and John
The musicians’ passion and skill–combined with Most Precious Blood’s fine acoustics and intimacy–made for one magnificent show. I feel blessed to have been there. 
After the show, performers and organizers took a well-deserved bow
Afterward, musicians and guests mingled and enjoyed some lite fare in the rectory. Production costs were generously paid for by event sponsor Umberto's Clam House.
Singer-songwriter Allison Scola joins friends Nando, Bill, John and Jennifer

Photo of the Week: San Michele Arcangelo, Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Napoli

San Michele Arcangelo, Scultore Napoletano, early 16th Century, Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Napoli. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 23, 2017

A Review of Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales,” based on the book by Giambattista Basile

Tale of Tales movie poster
By Lucian
Just about everyone is familiar with fairy tales and most of us know their origins are very old. Modern versions of these tales can be very different from the older ones, and few realize just how many variations these stories once had. The brothers Grimm compiled the stories in what is now Germany, and their versions became a literary standard, although even these versions have been further edited and modified to become the fairy tales we know and love today.
The tales recorded by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm are often darker in nature than the versions most people are familiar with, leading people to speculate that their name was the basis for the modern English word “grim,” which means uninviting, depressing or harsh. The connection is coincidental, but meaningful. The term “grim” did not derive from the surname “Grimm,” but both share a common etymology, and derive from the Old English or Old High German word for “fierce.” The older versions of fairy tales were often cautionary tales, and as such did not have happy endings.
Alternative artwork
Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), published in 1812 by the brothers Grimm is where the average person stops when looking into the history of a fairy tale, but their work was far from the beginning, and many other variants of those stories existed in their time and before it. Approximately 175 years before their first edition, in the 1630s, a Neapolitan poet and courtier named Giambattista Basile compiled and connected the stories of many fairy tales in his work Lo cunto de li cunti (called the Pentamerone in Italian). The brothers Grimm referenced it for material and, in the third edition of their own book, praised Basile and acknowledged his influence on their work.
In 2015, Matteo Garrone directed a film called Tale of Tales (Il racconto dei racconti) based on the work of Giambattista Basile. The film stars Vincent Cassel, Salma Hayek, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly, Hayley Carmichael, Shirley Henderson, Jessie Cave, Christian Lees and Jonah Lees. As with many movie adaptations, only a portion of the book was represented and there were inevitable changes made. To try to include it all simply wouldn’t be practical. The DVD was released in the fall of 2016.
Alternative artwork
The film was fascinating, but disturbing, and while I feel today’s children are sheltered too much from harsh realities, the imagery in Tale of Tales was certainly not for children. One could ask why, with modern horror films and gruesome special effects, I would find this movie disturbing. It was not because I expected a sanitized version of our ancient or traditional fairy tales, it is because the stories brought with them ethical dilemmas and moral conundrums that are not pleasant to think about. The movie is based on stories that occur in a fairy tale setting, but expresses the complexity and sometimes dire consequences of decision making in a way that a Walt Disney movie never could. For example: Is it right to help a stranger? It can be, but what if the action puts your own family in peril? Does obligation to your family supersede personal altruism? Is it right to help someone if it imperils another innocent? What appears to be a simple question, when honestly examined, is not simple at all. The more I think about the movie, the more questions like this arise, even from what at first seemed like insignificant details.
Alternative artwork
The fantastic castles and other scenery in the film were real places in Italy, and most were in the south. These included the Neapolitan Palazzo Reale di Napoli and the Palazzo Reale di Capodimonte, Apulia’s Castel del Monte, and Sicily’s Castello di Donnafugata. My personal favorites were Abruzzo’s Castello di Roccascalenga and its cliffs, and the Gole dell'Alcantara in Sicily where they filmed the scene of the King and the sea dragon.
Anyone interested in the older, less sanitized versions of fairy tales, or in the beautiful places that this movie was filmed, should definitely take the time to watch it.

February 22, 2017

Knights Out On the Town

Sated partygoers outside Patrizia's Neapolitan pizzeria and restaurant
 Photos by Cav. John Napoli
By Cav. John Napoli
After Mass Saturday evening, knights and postulants of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George met at Patrizia’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a little fellowship and to celebrate the recent appointment of Nob. Dr. Robert LaRocca as our Vice-Delegate.
Packed to the gills, Patrizia’s was loud and exuberant. Serendipitously, almost every table that night was celebrating a birthday (or two!). Staff and diners would wildly twirl their cloth napkins in the air (“rally towel” style) while singing “Happy Birthday” or “Jolly Good Fellow.” So be warned, while ideal for a party, the uproarious atmosphere is not conducive to a quiet or relaxing evening. 
After saying grace and toasting our kings of yore, our party was treated to a bevy of delicious courses served by Patrizia’s crack wait staff. Naturally, our meal began with a few outstanding antipasti dishes, bountiful plates of burrata all’amalfitana, mulignan a fungitiell and parmigiana di melanzane. This was soon followed by a veritable seafood bonanza, which included polpo alla fuorigrotta, al forno vongole, cozze alla posillipo and insalata di pesce misto, among others. 
After a much-needed break, our sumptuous (and admittedly somewhat decadent) repast continued with classic pizza napoletana, vongole alla positano and Patrizia’s signature pasta dish, fioretti alla boscaiola, ricotta-stuffed “little purses” smothered in a creamy mushroom and prosciutto sauce. 
Incredibly, there was still more to come! The servers brought out platters of perfectly cooked skirt steak and lamb chops with salad. Luckily for me, I was warned beforehand not to fill-up too soon because there would be several courses served and each one could have been a meal in and of itself. Capped off with dessert and espresso, we definitely experienced the full gamut of their menu.
Each of us received a custom patch
courtesy of Cav. Vincent Gangone
I was more than a little relieved when the extra food was packed up to take home (or offer to a homeless person) and not waisted.
Although the food was exceptional (I highly recommend Patrizia's), without a doubt the highlight of the evening was Baron LaRocca. His Excellency regaled us with the history and lore of our illustrious Order, the Royal Family and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. 
Reputed to have a one of a kind collection of Bourbon–Two Sicilies memorabilia, the Baron was thoughtful enough to bring out one of his prized pieces to share with us. Complete with their original gilded presentation case and red watered silk ribbon, he passed around a breast star and neck badge of the Royal Order of Saint Januarius (Isigne Reale Ordine di San Gennaro). 
Founded on July 3, 1738 by HM King Carlo di Borbone in celebration of his marriage to Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, the Order was created to honor San Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples, and to foster true chivalry and Christian brotherhood. Membership, never numbering more than twenty worthy gentleman at any given time, was drawn exclusively from the Royal Families of Europe and high aristocracy of the Kingdom. They were expected to “increase, at all costs, the Holy Religion” and to be “a heroic example of piety towards God and loyalty towards their Prince.”*
The beautiful insignia is made up of a cross with four bifurcated arms separated by fleur-de-lis. The Order’s motto In Sanguine fœdus, or “a covenant by blood,” is inscribed beneath the half-length image of San Gennaro with pastoral staff and ampoules of blood resting on the Book of the Gospels.
What a thrill it was to see them in person. Next to the relics of the saints and, of course, my own medals, these were perhaps the most awe-inspiring objects I ever held in my hands. 
Thank you Delegate John M. Viola, Vice-Delegate Baron LaRocca, Vice-Chancellor Patrick O’Boyle; my confratelli Cav. Thomas Crane, Cav. Anthony O’Boyle, Cav. Thomas Portelli, Cav. Charles Sant’Elia; and postulants Rosanna Minervini, Michael Auricchio and Andrew Portelli for a fantastic evening. I look forward to getting together again soon. Special thanks to Cav. Vincent Gangone for organizing the affair. Your hard work and dedication to our community is an inspiration to us all. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of this high-spirited celebration. Viva ‘o Rre! 
* For more about the Royal Order of Saint Januarius visit www.realcasadiborbone.it
The Baron discussing the history of the Order
while Rossana admires the medals
(L-R) Breast star and neck badge of the Royal Order of Saint Januarius 
(Isigne Reale Ordine di San Gennaro)
(L-R) Ornate presentation box with Royal Coat of Arms and wax seal ring with Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George insignia

February 21, 2017

Photo of the Week: San Pietro by Ignazio Marabitti

San Pietro by Ignazio Marabitti, Duomo di Siracusa, Sicily
Photo by Niccolò Graffio

February 15, 2017

US Delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George Announces New Vice-Delegate

Nob. Dr. Robert LaRocca
We are pleased to announce that HE Delegate, Cav. John M. Viola has appointed our confratello, Nob. Dr. Robert LaRocca as Vice-Delegate of the US Delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. A long-serving member, Baron LaRocca’s dedication to our sacred Order and our Royal Family is unquestioned. Decorated as Commander in 1981 and Knight Commander in the grade of Justice in December 2016, he also served as a member of the National Council of the Order as the representative of HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone. His experience and knowledge is an invaluable asset to our efforts. 
Congratulations Baron LaRocca, we wish you the very best!

February 12, 2017

Photo of the Week: A Sphinx from Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele in Capri

A Sphinx from Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 8, 2017

The Search for our Ancestry (XXXIII)

Family Trees VS. DNA Testing  
By Angelo Coniglio
I usually encourage genealogy researchers to share their family trees on-line, in order to make connections with others who may be researching similar information. Some are hestitant to do so, often because of privacy issues, but even more often because it strikes a sour note for them to have worked hard and long to develop and verify all the records, collect images of documents, photos, family stories, etc, and then to post all that on-line, for others to simply copy and use.   
I argue that most folks develop a family tree not only to find ancestors, but where possible to identify living relatives who have some of the same ancestors; to broaden their own and others’ knowledge of blood relations.  Posting a tree on-line can attract others who are researching the same surnames and towns, and correspondence between you and them may benefit both parties.  
To those who complain that others may take ‘your tree’ and incorrectly use it to show spurious or unsourced information, I say “You can keep your tree accurate and documented. If someone else uses your information and mistakenly adds something to their tree, that’s their problem, and does not reflect on you.” Such concerns, I believe, are minor when compared to the great gains that can be made when you find a distant cousin who has dozens of well-documented folks in his tree, who are your previously unknown relatives, and you have ‘connected’ because he or she saw your family tree on-line.
That being said, why, then, did I hestiate to upload my tree to a DNA testing site? Simple skepticism. I already had a family tree on-line, at www.rootsweb.com, not connected to any DNA testing site. And after contacting someone identified as a relative by 23andMeGEDmatch, or AncestryDNA I had no problem exchanging my off-line genealogical database or my on-line rootsweb information with that person. That let us compare names and sometimes identify relatives or common ancestors we didn’t already know about. 
But I resisted allowing the information that I found to be merged on a DNA site, concerned that it would go into some ‘world tree’ that could contain errors, or unsourced and uncorroborated information. Added to that was my concern that the software which analyzed my genome could, by ‘circular reasoning’, access my ‘tree’ and then report results ‘confirming’ the information in the tree, when really, it was information that I myself entered. I may have been too much of a ‘doubter’, who wanted to separate the DNA analyses from the ‘paper genealogy’, and infer connections only after I had considered each separately. I have since set aside my concerns and find that having my tree available through a DNA venue, and viewing others’ trees there can help establish ‘paper’ connections with my ‘DNA relatives’.
To summarize my opinion of DNA testing, I feel that the $100 I paid to have my genetic material (saliva) tested by 23andMe (and later by AncestryDNA) was money well spent, even though it has not yet allowed me to identify a relative who has more information about my ancestry than I’ve already accumulated. It has introduced me to several ‘2nd to 6th cousins’ who share with me ‘significant’ portions of their genome (biological ‘blueprint’), as well as a newly-identified grandniece and a grand-nephew whose many DNA matches with mine confirm our relationship. We all are making strides to connect our ‘paper genealogies’, a feat that will hopefully identify common ancestors and enlarge that group of souls, living and deceased, that make up our combined families. 
I recommend genealogical DNA testing for anyone who has more than a passing interest in genealogy and ‘personal ancestry’. With the proper approach to it (recognizing its capabilities and limitations) you can expand both broad and detailed knowledge of your roots. Combined with conventional research, it can even put leaves on the branches of your ‘tree’, introducing you to previously unknown living relatives. 
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by his Sicilian research.  Order the paperback or the Kindle version at http://bit.ly/SicilianStory
Coniglio’s web page at http://bit.ly/AFCGen has helpul hints on genealogic research.  If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at genealogytips@aol.com

February 7, 2017

Celebrating Candlemas at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pontifical Shrine in East Harlem

The crowned statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Thursday evening I joined 120 other pilgrims at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Pontifical Shrine in East Harlem, New York (448 East 116th St.) for the Feast of Candlemas. Marking the end of Christmastide (the 40 days of Christmas), the dual feast commemorates the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple
Arriving early, the stress and aggravation of the day quickly dissipated as I sat to say my prayers. Admittedly this doesn’t happen to me at every church, but clearly there is something extraordinary about this serene house of worship. To paraphrase a friend of mine, a person would have to be spiritually dead not to feel the presence of God in this magnificent church.
Making my rounds, I visited the various shrines to the saints and made my usual intercessory prayers for the happy repose of the souls of my ancestors and loved ones. I also thanked San Vito for graces received through his intercession, as well as petition Santa Lucia and San Michele Arcangelo for a couple of personal requests.
In accordance with the Canticle of Simeon, which proclaims Jesus to be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles,” candles were blessed and distributed among the faithful. Led by the Pallottine Fathers, devotees participated in the solemn fiaccolata, or torchlight procession, around the church before the Liturgy. 
Solemn High Mass was sung by celebrant and homilist Fr. Marian Wierzchowski SAC, Pastor; Deacon Fr. Christopher Salvatori SAC, Parochial Vica; and Subdeacon Teddy Thongratnachat. They were ably assisted by Lorenzo, Roberto, Brian, Michael, Ricardo, Andres, Mark and Jacob. Sacred hymns and traditional liturgical music were performed by organist and Director of Music Eva Grabo and Cantor, Schola and Choir Director William Xucla. 
After Mass, we were graciously invited by the Polish congregants, who celebrate Mass every first Thursday at the church, to join them in the rectory for some tea and dessert. Taking them up on their generous offer, I enjoyed a traditional pączek, or Polish doughnut, with powdered sugar and strawberry jam filling. Sweet and delicious, the famed pastry certainly lived up to its reputation.
Many thanks to Fr. Marian, Fr. Chris, parish staff and congregation for their continued warmth and hospitality, once again it was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture together. I look forward to my return. 
Blessing of the candles
The Pallottine Fathers led the candlelight procession
Devotees carrying candles process through the nave
(Above and below) Solemn High Mass
Fr. Marian Wierzchowski
Altar servers light the blessed candles
Mural of Christ in Majesty flanked by Angels and Saints
on the apse above the sanctuary

February 6, 2017

Photo of the Week: Castello Normanno-Svevo

Bari's Castello Normanno-Svevo, or Norman-Swabian Castle
Photo courtesy of Patrick O'Boyle

February 1, 2017

New Books (February 2017)

New and forthcoming titles that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at Amazon.com

Back to the Roots: A View of Magna Graecia by Gino Gullace

Publisher: Magna Graecia Association USA
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Kindle eBook: $9.99
Language: English
Print Length: 51 pages
File Size: 743 KB

Read description

Ettore Majorana: Unveiled Genius and Endless Mysteries by Salvatore Esposito and Laura Gentile de Fraia

Publisher: Springer Biographies
Publication Date: July 12, 2017
Hardcover: $79.99
Language: English
Pages: 214

Read description

Click here to see more books