December 31, 2019

Christmastide is Only Just Beginning

The Shrine to the Holy Innocents
located in the narthex of Church of the Holy Innocents

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
One cannot help but notice the puzzled look on some peoples’ faces when you wish them a “Merry Christmas” more than two days after Christmas Day. I’m not talking about people from different backgrounds or religions; I’m talking about those Catholics who have inexplicably forgotten their own customs and traditions. Be that as it may, for some of us the joyous season celebrating the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is only just beginning.

Thursday, December 26th — the Feast of St. Stephen, the First Martyr 

A bit weary from all the traveling and merry-making on Christmas Eve and Day, I decided to host a more subdued soirée this year in honor of il Giorno di Santo Stefano, or St. Stephen’s Day. Nothing too elaborate, we just had a few cocktails, some light fare, and the customary torrone imported from Avellino and Sicily, all while listening to Christmas music by the great Neapolitan composer Francesco Durante (1684-1755). The little get-together with dear friends is my own modest way of observing my saintly Confirmation namesake. Evviva Santo Stefano!

Soft torrone from Sicily with a glass of Liquore Strega
Friday, December 27th — The Feast of St. John the Evangelist and memorial of the death of HM Francesco II, King of the Two Sicilies 

Do to a previous engagement, I was unable to make Mass Friday night, however I was able to meet up with my St. Rocco Society brethren for our monthly “boys night out” in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Seeing as I was fasting for the vigil of the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and had an early day ahead of me on Saturday, I did not partake in the dinner, but I did allow myself one celebratory drink in honor of San Giovanni Evangelista.

A few of us exchanged small Christmas gifts, and knowing how much I like prayer cards, my good friend Andrew surprised me with a few he brought back from his recent jaunt in Southern Italy.

Before calling it a night, the monarchists among us did not forget to toast the memory of HM Francesco II di Borbone (1836-1894), the last King of the Two Sicilies. Normally on the anniversary of his death we would have a big to do, but unfortunately this year we were unable to do more. Viva ‘o Rre! Evviva San Giovanni!

I know it was a gag gift, but I'm not a fan of the Padre Pio cigarette lighter 
On the other hand, I loved the awesome St. Michael
Combat Chaplet from Roman Catholic Man
I got a nice assortment of prayer cards from Matera and Campania
Saturday, December 28th — the Feasts of the Holy Innocents and Santa Caterina Volpicelli 
Ex ore infántium, Deus et lacténtium perfecísti lauded propter inimícos tuos. Psalm 8. 2 Dómine Dóminus noster: quam admirábile est nomen tuum in univérsa terra! V. Glória Patri. Ex ore infántium. 1
Early Saturday morning Members of the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) gathered at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) to celebrate the Annual Mass for the Unborn and Rosary Procession. Our first time attending the event, we were unsure what to expect, but were happy to discover a sea of sisters, brothers and laity already packed into the church when we arrived.

Led for many years by Fr. Benedict Groeschel (1933-2014), the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal, Sisters of Life, and the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants still keep the crucial Christmas tradition going strong.

After Mass, there was the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic Adoration. This was quickly followed by a solemn procession with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn, to Parkmed NYC, an ungodly abortion mill located on 2nd Avenue. Cordoned off by police barricades, over two hundred pro-life participants prayed 15 decades of the Rosary.

Hundreds participated in Saturday's Mass for the Unborn and Rosary Procession
Young men took turns carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe 
(L) Returning to Holy Innocents for the Benediction. (R) The beautifully decorated high altar and famed Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, we sauntered back to the church for the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Afterward, a festive social was held in the parish hall, replete with trays of baked ziti, chicken-tenders with marinara, and an assortment of coffee and desserts that would be worthy of any Viennese wedding table.

Leaving the reception a little early, we skipped dessert and went upstairs to Confession, then meditated and said our penitential prayers. This gave us the necessary hour of abstinence from food or drink that is required before receiving Holy Communion.

Our Pastor, Fr. James L.P. Miara, sang solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Fr. Christopher Salvatori, SAC, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York, was the Deacon; and Mr. Jeffrey Collins was the Subdeacon. MC Eddy Toribio, several servers, and the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents dutifully assisted the Sacred Ministers.

Because it was the titular feast of the church, a plenary indulgence was granted to those who devoutly attended Mass there and completed the proscribed conditions (Confession, Communion, praying for the intentions of the Holy Father, etc.).

The Sisters of Life helped serve up the delicious fare 
Guests break bread in the parish hall
Sunday, December 29th — Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas 
Dum médium siléntium tenérent ómina, et nox in suo curu médium iter habéret, omnípotens sermo tuss, Dómine, de cælis a regálibus sédibus venit. Ps. 92. 1 Dóminus regnávit, decórum indútus est: indútus est Dóminus fortitúdinem, et præcínxit se. V. Glória Patri. Dum médium. 2
Sunday morning the Sanfedisti returned to Holy Innocents and attended both the 9:00am Tridentine Low Mass and the 10:30 am Tridentine High Mass. Fr. Miara celebrated both. Between the Masses, we made our daily prayers of thanks and praise, recited the Holy Rosary, invoked the saints, and prayed for the poor and forgotten Souls in Purgatory.

Briefly joining our fellow parishioners in the parish hall for coffee hour we mingled and discussed our plans to start a new food walk for the homeless at the church. Well received, we should have the charitable venture up and running soon. Please watch for upcoming details.

Making our way back to Brooklyn for our luncheon at Joe’s of Avenue U (287 Avenue U), we celebrated the Feast of San Tommaso Becket, patron saint of Mottola in Taranto, Puglia, with a variety of Sicilian dishes, including the trippa con patate e piselli and the bucatini con cavolfiore alla palermitana. Always enjoyable, the service and food was excellent. Evviva San Tommaso!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 30, Feast of St. Raynerius of Aquila

Trippa con patate e piselli
Cavolfiore alla palermitana
1) Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings, O God, Thou hast perfected praise, because of Thine enemies. Psalm 8. 2 O Lord our God, how admirable is Thy Name in the whole earth! V. Glory be to the Father. Out of the mouth of infants. ~ Introit Psalm 8. 3

2) While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne. Ps. 92. 1 The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself. V. Glory be to the Father. While all things. ~ Introit Wisdom 18. 14, 15

Top Ten Posts of 2019

(Top, L-R) First Friday and the first official meeting of the Fratelli della Santa
Fede; Bidding Farewell to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima;
and Mother Cabrini and the She Built New York monument debacle.
(Bottom, L-R) The restoration of the Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii at St. Bernadette Church; Sanfedisti celebrating; and venerating St. Boniface 
Top Ten Posts
01 Some Thoughts on the She Built NYC Monument Debacle
02 Binging on Fiction: A Welcome's Blast From My Geeky Past
03 The Long Awaited Return of the Tridentine Mass to St. Finbar Church in Bath Beach, Brooklyn
04 St. Boniface and the Counter-Revolution
05 Celebrating the Feast of Sant’Uberto di Liegi
06 The Once and Future Kingdom
07 Celebrating All Souls Day With My Ancestors
08 The First Decade
09 Briganti Field Trip: Maker of Middle-Earth Exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum
10 A Most Regrettable Sunday

Honorable mention:
11 Celebrating High Mass, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and Devotions in Honor of Our Lady of Fatima in NYC
12 Bidding Farewell to the Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at Holy Innocents Church in NYC
13 Brief Musings

Click here to see last year’s results

December 30, 2019

December 27, 2019

Celebrating Traditional Midnight Mass at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents' Christmas Crèche
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Deus, qui hanc sacratíssimam noctem veri lúminis fecísti illustratióne claréscere: da, quǽsumus; ut, cujus lucis mystéria in terra cognóvimus, ejus quoque gáuddiis in cælo perfruámur: Qui tecum. 1 
Since my decision to only attend the traditional Latin Mass, I knew there would be some difficult decisions to make. Living almost two hours away from our parish meant leaving my family and friends a lot earlier than I would have if I just attended Midnight Mass with them at our local church a block away. Sadly, after our resplendent Vigilia dinner, replete with traditional Duosiciliano seafood dishes, I would miss out on the caffèdolci and games, like tombola and chess, not to mention the much-needed quality time with my loved ones. However, being a holy day of obligation and recognizing there would be plenty more coffee, dessert and hijinks on Christmas Day, I knew what I had to do. After the invitations to join me were courteously (and expectedly) declined, I bid them all a Merry Christmas and went on my way.

Beautifully decorated high altar & famed
Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Catching the train to the city without a hitch, I arrived in record time to the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) in Manhattan. [Insert obvious joke about a Christmas miracle here]. Settling into the beautifully decorated church just as the Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament was beginning, I meditated and prayed the Holy Rosary, as well as my daily prayers for the poor and forgotten Souls in Purgatory.

At 11:00 am the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents began singing a few traditional Christmas carols in Latin. This was soon followed by the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At about a quarter to twelve the lights went off, plunging the nave into darkness, except for the vigil candles held by the parishioners (reminiscent of a Rorate Cæli Mass).

To the opening hymn of Adéste fidelés, there was a candlelight procession to the manger erected before the Our Lady of Perpetual Help bye-altar. Our Pastor, Fr. James L.P. Miara, M. Div., placed the statue of the infant Jesus on His bed of straw, which was surrounded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Good St. Joseph, the angels and shepherds. The crib was blessed and the packed church sat quietly in anticipation.

At midnight the lights were turned on. Fr. Miara sang the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Fr. Michael C. Barone, Chaplain for the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, was the Deacon; and Mr. Jeffrey Collins was the Subdeacon. MC Eddy Toribio, several servers, and the Schola dutifully assisted the sacred ministers.

After Mass, I briefly went downstairs to the parish hall to say hello to a few friends and see the always-delicious home-cooked repast generously prepared by members of the congregation. Still full from dinner and not wanting to miss the votive Low Mass at Dawn commemorating the Feast of Sant’Anastasia di Sirmio, I skipped the reception and rushed back up to the church, joining Fr. Miara and some thirty parishioners for the celebration. Often forgotten, the young Roman virgin was martyred on Christmas Day in 304 A.D. during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. Patroness of Motta Sant’Anastasia in Catania, Sicily, she is also fêted in late August during harvest.

With a long trek home ahead of me and unsure if I would get lucky with the trains again (I did!), I chose not to return to the party. Instead, I took a moment to light a few more candles and prayed for my family, friends and ancestors before departing.

Always worth the effort to visit, Holy Innocents is a steadfast bastion of traditional Catholicism in the heart of our decadent society. In his homily, Fr. Miara quoted St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar, “Every church of ours is like another Bethlehem stable, every ciborium, like a manger. Here as there, the same lord Jesus rests—wearied from his majesty.” While this may not be true at every church (please forgive my cynicism), it most certainly is a reality at this thriving sanctuary. May God bless you all, Merry Christmas!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 26th, Feast of Santo Stefano primo Martire

The ladies served up some Christmas cheer at the reception
Maria's delicious pork kielbasa, chicken with fava beans, and beef with barley 
(Above & below) Assorted trays of affettati e formaggio
1) O God, Who hast made this most holy night to shine forth with the splendor of the true Light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have known the mysteries of His light on earth, may enjoy also His happiness in heaven. Who with Thee liveth. ~ Collect

La Vigilia and Other Christmas Traditions

Baccalà in umido with tomato, onion and olives
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Like many Duosiciliano Americans, my family still keeps the tradition of La Vigilia di Natale, the southern Italian ritual of eating seafood and eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. We don’t do the so-called Festa dei sette pesci, or “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” but we do eat a variety of aquatic delicacies.

Despite regular and varied claims to authenticity, I believe the “Seven Fish” custom is a recent fabrication. Though much more lavish then in the past, according to our matriarchs there were never a set number of dishes served. We simply ate what we could afford, and what was fresh and available.

Today, we normally have shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels and scungilli (whelk), which all can be prepared in a variety of ways. Capitone fritto alla napoletana (fried eel) use to be the main course, but nowadays, since the passing of my grandparents, the dish has been replaced with aragosta (lobster), ricci di mare (sea urchin), seppia (cuttlefish), or baccalà (salt cod). This year, we enjoyed baccalà in umido (stewed codfish) and mini lobster tails.

Following the fish bonanza, we had three different types of meatless panzerotti, a delicious deep-fried crescent-shaped dough filled with onions and capers; sweet ricotta; and the classic mozzarella and tomato.

Insalata di mare
Mini lobster tails
Fritto misto di mare
Spaghetti alle vongole 
White wine from Campania
Having left early for Midnight Mass this year (see: Celebrating Traditional Midnight Mass at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents), I missed out on the usual assortment of fruit, nuts, and delicious sweets, as well as playing games with the kids (tombola and chess). I also missed our customary passeggiata through Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, to admire the festive Christmas decorations. My family has been doing this for as long as I can remember, though originally it was in East New York, Brooklyn, where my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were from.

Christmas morning we exchanged presents and made the rounds, visiting family and friends until dinnertime. No less extravagant than the Eve, Christmas dinner was a culinary tour de force with plenty of hot and cold antipastiinsalata, baked manicotti and perfectly cooked filet mignon. The steak was a new addition. Fruit, dessert and caffè completed the meal.

Not quite finished yet, on December 26th, the second day of Christmas and St. Stephen's Day (my saintly Confirmation namesake), we celebrate with imported torrone from Avellino, a sticky nougat candy made from honey, nuts and egg whites that dates back to Roman times. I like mine with a glass of Strega or Amaro.

As always, the ladies outdid themselves and treated us to another memorable Christmas. Buon Natale!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 26th, Feast of Santo Stefano primo Martire

Prosciutto e melone, focaccia Pugliese, and frittata di scarola
Filet mignon
Homemade torrone
Homemade cartellate with fig syrup
Add Stratego to game night. For the record, Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo & the Sanfedisti (me) duly defeated the Parthenopaean Republic (my opponent)
Santa really gets me
Amended for 2019

December 24, 2019

Celebrating the Fourth Faith-Filled Weekend of Advent

Mother Cabrini's precious remains rest in a glass coffin beneath the altar
Photos by Andrew Giordano and New York Scugnizzo
For the fourth straight weekend of Advent, Members of the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) partook in the spiritually edifying devotions and Masses celebrated throughout the solemn liturgical season by Fr. James L.P. Miara, M. Div., Pastor of the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 West 37th St.) in Manhattan.

Detail of the 3-story stained glass window
Saturday, December 21st — Votive Mass of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini with the Commemoration of Ember Saturday
Orémus: Dómine Jesu Christie, qui sanctam Virginem Francíscam Xavériam, sacratíssimi Cordis tui inge succénsam, per amplíssimas mundi plagas ad ánimas tibi lucrándas deduxísti, et per eam novam in Ecclésia tua vírginum famíliam suscitásti: concéde, quǽsumas; ut, ipsa intercedénte, ejúsdem Cordis tui virtútibus induámur atque ad ætérnum beatitúdnis portum perveníre mereámur: Qui vivis et regnas. 1
Saturday afternoon, we joined some seventy devotees on the Traditional Latin Mass Pilgrimage to the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine (701 Fort Washington Avenue) in Washington Heights, New York and attended a Votive Mass on the vigil of the 102nd anniversary of the death of Mother Cabrini. Arriving early, visitors had the opportunity to explore the shrine and recite the Holy Rosary.
Crucifix and statue of Mother Cabrini
Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was sung by Fr. Miara. Fr. Christopher Salvatori, SAC, Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Harlem, New York, was the Subdeacon and Fr. Peter M. Stravinskas was the homilist. MC Eddy Toribio, a slew of servers, and the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents dutifully assisted the Sacred Ministers.

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was followed by the solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, devotions to Mother Cabrini, and veneration of her First-Class Relic.

After Mass, we tagged along with a group of aesthetes and took a short excursion to the Cloisters Museum (99 Margaret Corbin Dr.) at nearby Fort Tryon Park. A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum possesses an impressive collection of sacred art from medieval Europe.

Altar, ca. 1225, Catalonia, Spain
(L) Adoration of the Magi (1470-1480), Upper Rhine, Germany.
(R) The Lamentation, ca. 1480, Castile-La Mancha, Spain 
The Death of the Virgin (The Dormition), late 15th century,
workshop of Tilman Heysacker, Cologne, Germany
(L) Early 16th cen. statue of St. Roch from Normandy, France. (R) St. Anthony Abbot, ca. 1500, attributed to Nikolaus von Hagenau, Strasbourg, Alsace.
A view of the Hudson River from the museum's West Terrace
Sunday, December 22nd — Celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Roráte cæli, désuper, et nubes pluant justum: aperiátur terra, et gérminet Salvatórem. Ps. 18. 2 Cæli enárrant glóriam Dei: et ópera mánuum ejus annúntiat fírmaméntum. V. Glória Patri. Roráte, Cæli. 2
Holy Innocents' high altar and famed
Crucifixion mural by Constantino Brumidi
Returning to Holy Innocents Church Sunday morning, the Sanfedisti went to Holy Confession and attended both the 9:00am Tridentine Low Mass celebrated by Fr. Michael C. Barone, Chaplain for the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey and the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George; and the 10:30am Tridentine High Mass, sung by Fr. Miara.

Later on, we joined our fellow parishioners in the parish hall for coffee hour and helped set up for the festive reception to follow Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Having fasted on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for our combined Ember Days and Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel devotions, we were really looking forward to our regular group luncheon. However, since it is an extremely busy time of year and we all have last minute errands to run before Christmas, we decided to cut short the festivities and reschedule our group celebration.

As always, it was a great joy to celebrate our faith and culture together. God bless our brethren, kith and kin, and our supporters; we wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

~ Giovanni di Napoli, December 23, Feast of Venerable Therese of St. Augustine

We acquired a few religious goods over the weekend
1) Let us pray: O Lord, Jesus Christ, you enkindled the fire of your Sacred Heart in the holy virgin Frances Xavier so that she might win souls for You in many lands, and establish a new religious congregation of women in Your Church. Grant that we too may imitate the virtues of Your Sacred Heart through her intercession, so that we may be worthy of the haven of eternal happiness: Who livest and reignest. ~ Collect

2) Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. Ps. 18. 2 The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. V. Glory be to the Fathers. Drop down dew. ~ Introit

December 23, 2019

December 22, 2019

New Music: Neapolitan Concertos for Various Instruments

New music that may be of interest to our readers.

Neapolitan Concertos for Various Instruments by Musica Fiorita and Daniela Dolci

Label: Pan Classics
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Audio CD: $18.99
Number of Discs: 1

Available at

Read description

December 21, 2019

Meridiunalata XIV: A Bilingual Offering of Duosiciliano Poetry

Inspired by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade,* an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan / English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010, we offer the reader an accessible introduction to vernacular (Neapolitan, Sicilian, et al.) verse with the aim of awakening enthusiasm for contemporary and historical poesia Duosiciliano.

In this installment, we're featuring the Neapolitan poetry of Luciano Somma.

Speranza 'E Natale
Di Luciano Somma

‘O mmale ‘e nu munno ‘mpazzuto

me trase ‘int’’o core stasera
nu core ca cerca n’aiuto,
l'aiuto 'e na mano sincera…
Pe’ ll’aria nu suono ‘e zampogna
me porta ‘a nuvena ch’è doce
ma è spina ca ‘mpietto me pogna
sentenno pesante sta Croce.
Sole ‘e Natale puortece
‘o pizzo a rrisa ‘e Ddio
cu’’o verde d’’a speranza
pace e serenità
dacce dint’’a sti juorne
carezze d’alba, ‘e cielo,
scacciala 'a nuje pe' sempe
tutta sta ‘nfamità!

Christmas Hope
By Luciano Somma

The evil of a world gone mad
Enters into my heart this evening
A heart that seeks help
The help of a sincere hand.
Through the air the sound of bagpipes
Bring me the novena which is sweet
But it is a thorn that pricks my chest
Feeling heavy this Cross.
Christmas Sun bring us
God's smile
With the green of hope
Peace and serenity.
Give us in these days
Caresses of dawn, of sky,
Scatter away from us forever
All of this infamy!

Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia

* 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.

December 20, 2019

Around the Web: Are You a Monarchist?

Reprinted from Tumblar House Catholic Bookstore 

By Charles A. Coulombe 

Most people asked the title question to-day would doubtless contemptuously answer “no!” Some few – very few in these United States – might answer in the affirmative. But how well do either really understand what they are denying or assenting to? Just what is a Monarchy? For that matter, what is a republic? Just as our Federal Union, Hitler’s Germany, and North Korea are all called republics, so too are Austria-Hungary, Canada, and Imperial China called Monarchies. But in both cases, what a world of difference! About the only thing you can say that most Monarchies shall have in common is the hereditary principle in choosing the Sovereign – but that is not the case to-day with either the Holy See, the Sovereign Order of Malta, or the Co-Principality of Andorra; nor, for long stretches of history, was it true for either the Holy Roman Empire or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Continue reading

John Miniero's Outdoor Presepio: A Beloved Neapolitan Christmas Tradition in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
John Miniero's annual outdoor presepio can be seen on 14th Avenue, between 79th and 80th streets in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.