September 23, 2019

A Look at the 2019 Pilgrimage to the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto, Pennsylvania

The Our Lady of Grace Chapel and iconic arches
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Saturday, September 21, on the occasion of the Feast of San Matteo, I had the privilege of joining my dear friends of the Associazione Culturale Pugliese Figli Maria SS. Addolorata and Gruppo Italiano Sant'Atanasio (G.I.S.A.) on their pilgrimage to the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto, Pennsylvania from St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
It was a picture-perfect day to visit the Centre 
Bronze statues of Padre Pio with children and Padre
Raffaele di Sant'Elia a Pianisi
 greet visitors on their Arrival
In addition to the chapel and spiritual sites, the Centre boasts
an impressive museum, cultural center, gift shop, and café 
There was also an outdoor food court and picnic area
With plenty of time to kill before Mass, our group
found a shady tent outside the gift shop to have lunch
(Above & below) We enjoyed some delicious homemade
focaccia Barese and torta di carciofi alla Calabrese
Because it was the Saturday Ember Day of Autumn, I had just a sliver of each
(L) A view from the arches built to resemble the friary in
San Giovanni Rontondo, Foggia. (R) A peek into the courtyard
Votive candles line the walls of the courtyard
An outdoor shrine to Sant'Antonio di Padova
Sant'Antonio and the Madonna del Romitello
The outdoor shrine to the Madonna del Romitello 
(Above & below) The Centre is home to Maria Ss. del Soccorso di Castelfranci, Avellino and San Michele Arcangelo, protettore di Sturno, Avellino
Our Lady and San Michele vanquishing the devil 
Glorious San Michele 
Smiting Satan 
Above the main altar in the Madonna della Grazie chapel are paintings
of Saint John the Baptist, Our Lady of Grace, and St. Paul the Apostle
In the sanctuary are statues of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
and (I believe) St. Louis IX, King of France 
On the first side altar on the right is St. Francis of Assisi with relic
Below him lies Santa Massimiana, virgin, martyr
and patroness of San Giovanni Rotondo
(L) The second side altar on the right is dedicated to St. Felix Cantilice.
(R) The actual confessional used by Padre Pio to hear
the confessions of women in San Giovanni
A glove relic is on display inside the confessional 
A copy of Luca Giordano's The Patron Saints of Naples
Adoring Christ on the Cross
 hangs above the confessional
Statues of the Madonna della Libera and Madonna di Fatima in the Museum

Feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Painted ceramic of Saint Pio
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
September 23rd is the Feast Day of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. In celebration, I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Pio. The accompanying photo was taken in Vietri Sul Mare during my 2010 pilgrimage to Southern Italy.
Prayer to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
O Glorious Saint Pio, bearing the wounds of Christ you generously accepted your sufferings, and labored faithfully for the good of all souls. Help me to embrace that same attitude of acceptance in my life. With confidence, I ask for your intercession to obtain the grace of (make your request), which I ardently desire. If it is not, however, God's will that this should come to pass, then help me to find serenity and joy in God's choices for me. Amen

Happy Autumn!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The Fall Equinox marks the transition of summer into winter. To celebrate the occasion and the season of Autumn I would like to share a poem by Vittorio Clemente from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.37.
When Sorbs are in Season

A chill comes over me... a necklace
of sorbs, even now, in my hands;
even now the poplar
sees in the river
the shimmer of a yellow leaf
dangling from the tip
of a blackened bough... and a voice
surges through the hills: "When sorbs
my love, are in season, summer is already in flight..."
Later this morning the leaf
will shrivel, at a whish
of mountain wind. From across a veil
of fog, from far away across the fields,
who'll call out, even now? Whose voice will ring?

(Translated by Anthony Molino)

September 22, 2019

Celebrating the Feasts of Santa Candida Martire and Sant’Eustachio Martire with My San Rocco Brethren

Baccala oreganata
After work Friday evening I met with my St. Rocco Society brothers at Peppino’s Restaurant (7708 3rd Ave.) in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for our monthly “boys night out” dinner. Never just a simple meal, our friendly gatherings almost always gets conflated with another celebration, like someone’s birthday or holiday. As luck would have it, this month’s dinner fell on the shared feast day of Santa Candida and Sant’Eustachio.

As someone who enjoys the little details, themed dinners and foodstuff associated with the saints are a terrific way to honor them, so I chose my courses accordingly.

Being a Friday, I never eat meat. Having done this my whole life in obedience to the traditional Catholic laws of fasting and abstinence, the penitential practice has become second nature and frankly doesn’t feel much like a privation anymore. Be that as it may, since it was also an Autumn Ember Day (the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross) it was a little tougher than normal because I had to cut down my portions during a soirée that is famously raucous and glutted with Chef Mancino’s delicious Duosiciliano fare.

Luckily for me, Santa Candida is the patroness of fishermen and farmers, so I ate my modest fish and vegetable dish with her in mind. Baccala oreganata, Gaeta olives and a side of scarola aglio e olio seemed like a suitable meal to dedicate to the keeper of the Ventotene, one of the Pontine jewels off the coast of Gaeta in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

However, as the patron saint of gamekeepers and hunters, Sant’Eustachio had to be content with only drinks and a toast in his name. Allowing myself to enjoy an aperitivio in his honor, I chose my usual Jägermeister, a German herbal liquor whose well known stag and cross logo denotes the holy huntsmen, Saints Hubertus and Eustace.

Only a temporary delay, I had plans to move his culinary celebration to Sunday with my family, transforming our customary hebdomadal get-together into a lavish hunters’ fête. Instead of our regular Sunday ragù, after Mass I will attempt to make my family’s “famous” Coniglio all’ischitana, a traditional hunter-style rabbit dish from Ischia. One of my favorite’s, the hearty repast will surely bring back a lot of fond memories. For many years my father returned from the hunt with hare or venison and my mother lovingly prepared the delicious game for us.

These ritual dinners mean the world to me. No matter how hectic or noisy they somehow bring a sense of order and purpose in an otherwise disordered and disconcerting world. This may come as a shock, but outside of Mass breaking bread with family and friends is my favorite way to honor our ancestors, venerate the saints, and celebrate our culture and faith together.

Evviva Santa Candida! Evviva Sant’Eustachio! Evviva San Rocco! and Evviva San Tommaso da Villanova! whose day it is.

~ Giovanni di Napoli, Sunday, September 22nd, Feast of St. Thomas of Villanova

Celebrating the 93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, New York (Part 2)

The Procession Continued and Dinner
Evviva San Gennaro!
Photos by Raymond Guarini and New York Scugnizzo
A look at Thursday's 93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro at the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood in Little Italy, New York. (See part 1, Mass and the Procession)
The procession sauntered down bustling Mulberry St.
A good time was had by all
Danny Vecchiano and the Giglio Band
(Above & below) Our friends from 
the East Harlem Giglio Society Show their support
Phil Bruno and Bobby Surella
The Cortello clan enjoying the festivities
A nice tribute was offered to our Armed Forces by
the WWII Monument outside DiPalo's Fine Foods store
(Above & below) The procession returns to Most Precious Blood Church
(Above & below) The statue is placed back into the sanctuary 
Afterward, lifters take a commemorative photo
Before dinner, we visited the outdoor shrine
We picked up a few souvenirs at E. Rossi & Co.
Naturally, we had pizza with our pal Ciro at Song' e Napule Pizzeria
New hand-painted images adorn Ciro's mobile pizza oven

September 21, 2019

Celebrating the 93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, New York (Part 1)

Mass and the Procession
Evviva San Gennaro!
Photos by Raymond Guarini and New York Scugnizzo
A look at Thursday's 93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro at the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood in Little Italy, New York. (See part 2, the Procession Continued and Dinner)
(L) The Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George was
bestowed to the statue last year by HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone, Duke of Castro.
(R) The Relic of San Gennaro
Before Mass, devotees process the statue into the Church
Members of the US Delegation of the Sacred Military
Constantinian Order of St. George were in attendance
Mass was celebrated by Fr. Brian A. Graebe, S.T.D.
Most Precious Blood Church was filled with devotees
After Mass, we had the opportunity to venerate the relic of San Gennaro
(Above & below) San Gennaro was presented to the expectant crowd
Departing the church grounds
Fr. Graebe enjoying the fervent devotion of the participants 
(Above & below) Members of the Constantinian Order of St. George
carried the statue to the outdoor shrine on Mulberry Street
Their Excellencies Cav. John Viola and Cav. Raimondo del Balzo di Presenzano
Cav. John Napoli and Cav. Thomas Crane
The procession briefly stoped by the outdoor chapel on Mulberry Street 
(Above & below) Members of the Giglio Boys
Society of Brooklyn helped carry the statue
Our buddies Anthony "Tony Mangia" Scillia and Angelo Castronovo
of the St. Rocco Society took turns carrying the statue