August 1, 2014

Feast of San Alfonso Maria de Liguori

Viva San Alfonso!
August 1st is the Feast Day of San Alfonso de Liguori, Doctor of the Church and patron Saint of those suffering from arthritis. The oldest of eight children, he was born on September 26, 1696 in Marianella, a small village on the outskirts of Naples. His mother, Donna Anna Caterina Cavalieri, was a loving and pious homemaker; his father, Don Giuseppe de Liguori, was Captain Commander of the Flagship of the Royal Squadron. Alfonso studied canon and civil law and earned his doctorate at the age of seventeen. In 1723, against his father's wishes, he abandoned his legal career to become a priest. A devout and zealous preacher, he later founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a missionary society dedicated to the spiritual needs of the poor people of Naples. In 1762 he was consecrated Bishop of Sant'Agata dei Goti, a commune in the Province of Benevento. Sadly, his later years were racked with acute arthritic suffering. San Alfonso died August 1, 1787 in Nocera die Pagani in the Province of Salerno. He was canonized in 1839 and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Novena in Honor of Saint Alphonsus.

Novena to Saint Alphonsus

Glorious Saint Alphonsus, loving father of the poor and sick, all your life you devoted yourself with a charity really heroic to lightening their spiritual and bodily miseries. Full of confidence in your tender pity for the sick, since you yourself have patiently borne the cross of illness, I come to you for help in my present need. Loving father of the suffering, Saint Alphonsus, whom I invoke as the Arthritis Saint, since you suffered from this disease in your lifetime, look with compassion upon me in my suffering. Beg god to give me good health. If it is not God’s will to cure me, then give me strength to bear my cross patiently and to offer my sufferings in union with my crucified Savior and his Mother of Sorrows, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, in reparation for my sins and those of others, for the needs of this troubled world, and for the souls in purgatory. Amen.

New Books

Some new and forthcoming titles that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at

• How I Became A Bandit
Autobiography by Carmine Crocco

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: July 13, 2014
Paperback: $7.19
Language: English
Pages: 124

• Politics and Culture in Renaissance Naples by Jerry H. Bentley

Publisher: Princeton Lagacy Library
Publication Date: July 14, 2014
Hardcover: $21.36
Language: English
Pages: 342

• Palermo, City of Kings: The Heart of Sicily by Jeremy Dummett

Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Publication Date: April 30, 2015
Hardcover: $24.19
Language: English
Pages: 272

• Women of Sicily: Saints, Queens and Rebels by Jacqueline Alio

Publisher: Trinacria Editions LLC
Publication Date: May 4, 2015
Paperback: $22.80
Language: English
Pages: 224

Read description

Click here to see more books

July 31, 2014

A Look Inside the Santa Febronia Chapel, Hoboken, New Jersey

Evviva Santa Febronia!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

During Saturday’s Saint Ann Procession through Hoboken, New Jersey (see upcoming post), we made several stops along the way. Some were simply for food and water, while others were to offer a benediction outside the homes of sick, elderly and deceased relatives who could not be with us. To my delight, near the end of the Procession we paid our respects at the historic Santa Febronia Chapel on 557 Fifth Street, between Monroe and Madison streets, before returning to Saint Ann's Church.

Dedicated to Santa Febronia di Patti and the Madonna di Tindari, the chapel was built by Sicilian immigrants who founded the Societá di Mutuo Soccorso Santa Febronia Patti e Circondario in 1922. Once a flourishing house of devotion and community center, changes in demographics and faith have taken its toll on the aging society and its ability to maintain our traditions. From what I’ve been told, the chapel is only opened two or three times a year.

My friends informed me beforehand we would be making a brief visit to the chapel, and, knowing my interests, I should not miss it. I could tell by their excitement that I was in for something special, but their descriptions did no justice to how amazing it really is. The statues of Santa Febronia and the Madonna Nera blew me away. Although stylistically different, both are wonderful expressions of southern Italian faith and devotion. After a short stop, the Procession continued along its course. 

Afterward, I wanted to get a better look at the chapel and its magnificent collection of artifacts, so I returned posthaste. Luckily for me it was still open. Just beating the rain, I found it empty, so I had a chance to sit alone in quiet reflection, say a prayer for my ancestors, then take a few pictures and get a better look at the treasures on display. One of many highlights, it was a real privilege for me to see this old-world oasis in the heart of Hoboken.
Societá di Mutuo Soccorso Santa Febronia Chapel on Fifth Street 
A view from the nave
The chancel 
Santa Febronia di Patti seen from multiple angles
Evviva Maria! 
La Madonna Nera seen from multiple angles
A close up of the heads 
A close up of the infant Jesus’ hands
The society standard behind the Madonna Nera 
Santa Lucia to the left of the Madonna di Tindari 
Candle stand to the right of Santa Febronia 
Encased in glass, the Dead Christ is enshrined behind the altar 
The East Wall
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

July 30, 2014

A Look at the 2014 Our Lady of Snow Candlelight Procession, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Evviva Maria! 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
The 126th Annual Feast of Our Lady of Snow, patroness of Sanza (SA), kicked-off Sunday in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a procession through the neighborhood and novena in honor of the Madonna della Neve at Saint Francis of Paola Church. After Mass we made our way back by candlelight to the society's hall for some lite fare and plenty of laughs. I would like to thank the members of the Our Lady of Snow Society, particularly Vincenzo and Teresa, for their warm and generous hospitality. As always, they did a terrific job.

The Feast Day of Our Lady of Snow will be celebrated on Tuesday, August 5th. The Procession will begin at 8:00AM from the society hall located at 410 Graham Avenue. Mass will be celebrated at 11:00AM at Saint Francis of Paola Church at 219 Conselyea Street. For more information please visit the Our Lady of Snow Society on Facebook.

The Madonna della Neve is presented to the crowd
The color guard proceeds down Woodpoint Road
The procession leaves Our Lady of Snow Hall 
We stopped for a moment of silence by the Society of St. Mary of the Snow Square on the corner of Herbert Street and Graham Avenue
The Giglio Band were awesome, just like always 
The Ladies carry Our Lady
Proud papa Vincenzo photobombs Amanda's lift 
The Madonna della Neve in San Francesco di Paola Church 
Leaving the Church 
Making our way back to the hall 
It's always good to see Vincenza, Elena and Amanda  
A wonderful tribute to our past
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

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July 27, 2014

Feast of San Pantaleone

Viva San Pantaleone!
A would-be executioner kneels in
awe before the impervious saint
By Giovanni di Napoli

July 27th is the feast day of San Pantaleone, patron saint of Ravello. Legend has it the Christian physician was beheaded (c. 305) during the Diocletian persecutions in Nicomedia, and that a woman collected his spilled blood. The ampulla holding the saint's blood reached Ravello in the eleventh-century after a storm at sea transported the monks of Saint Basil, guardians of the phial, from the East. It is believed the relic chose the town for shelter.

In honor of the martyr, I would like to share a few photos taken during my 2010 pilgrimage to beautiful Ravello—arguably the most bedazzling jewel gracing the Amalfi Coast—and its fabulous Duomo, home to the saint's relic. Continue reading

"The Orpheus of Apulia"

Guitar Virtuoso and Composer Mauro Giuliani

Mauro Giuliani
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Then Herr Mauro Giuliani, a Neapolitan, came to us—a man who had been led early in the right direction through correct sense of harmony, and who, as an accomplished virtuoso, combined with the most correct performance the greatest perfection of technique and of taste...Through his teaching and the competition he has aroused among teachers and lovers of the instrument, he has formed for us so many outstanding amateurs, that there could scarcely be another place where authentic guitar-playing is so widely practiced as here in our Vienna." —Excerpt from the preface to a guitar method published c.1811/12, entitled Versuch einer vollständigen methodischen Antleitung zum Guitare-Spielen by Simon Molitor & Wilhelm Klingenbrunner (1)
Southern Italy has a long history with the guitar, dating as far back as the Spanish viceroyalty. In fact, the earliest extant six-string guitar was built by the Neapolitan luthier Gaetano Vinaccia in 1779. The prestigious Gagliano, Fabricatore and Vinaccia families are credited with several innovations for the instrument and throughout the nineteenth century Naples remained a major center for its production. (2) It is also no coincidence that some of the most celebrated early classical guitarists—most notably the great Federico Moretti (1760-1838) and Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)—hailed from the RegnoContinue reading

July 26, 2014

Feast of Sant’Anna

Evviva Sant’Anna!
July 26th is the Feast Day of Saint Ann, mother of Mary, patroness of housewives, pregnant women, mothers and grandmothers. Widely venerated across southern Italy, she is the principal patron of Caserta (CA), Monte San Giacomo (SA), Ischia Ponte (NA), Bacoli (NA), Lettere (NA), Boscotrecase (NA), and Vernole (LE), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Ann. The accompanying photo was taken at Saint Andrew Avellino Roman Catholic Church (35-60 158th Street) in Flushing, New York.
Prayer to Saint Ann
Good Saint Ann, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your power with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

A Brief Sketch: Francesco Jerace

Carlotta d'Asburgo a Miramare, Napoli
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Born on July 26, 1854 in Polistena, a small town in the Province of Reggio Calabria, Francesco Jerace received his first instruction in art from his maternal grandfather, Francesco Morani, a descendent of a prolific family of artists from Calabria. He moved to Naples in 1869 and studied painting and sculpting at the Royal Institute of Fine Arts under the guidance of Tito Angelini, Tommaso Solari and Stanislao Lista. He first exhibited his work at the Società Promotrice di Belle Arti in Naples while only 18-years-of-age. 

Highly productive, Jerace would go on to create many works for public and private audiences, including portraits, allegorical figures, religious statuary and commemorative monuments. His style fluctuated between Classicism and Naturalism. Continue reading

July 24, 2014

Maestro Longobardi and Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra Perform Neapolitan Masters at the Internationale Festival of Youth Orchestras

Maestro Longobardi and SSYO Perform in Montecatini, Italy 
Photo courtesy of the Neapolitan Music Society
Congratulations Maestro Longobardi and Saratoga Springs Youth Orchestra. 

After a 2 week Summer Music Conservatory and first Neapolitan Music Society recording, the SSYO (under the direction of NMS President Maestro Gioacchino Longobardi) perform Francesco Durante and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi at the Internationale Festival of Youth Orchestras in Montecatini, Italy.

For more info visit or visit the Neapolitan Music Society on Facebook.

Announcing the Festa Della Famiglia in Onore di San Francesco Di Paola, Stone Park, Illinois

July 23, 2014

Saint Rocco Feast Entertainment Announced

Italian-American Intellectuals … Immigrant Working-Class Revolutionaries vs. Bourgeois Progeny …What Difference a War Makes!

By TOM VERSO (July 22, 2014)

The epitaph carve on the tomb of Tina Modotti reads in part: “…steel and wire combined with snow and pollen to make up your firm and delicate being.” /// /// The combination and juxtaposition of the gentleness and softness of “snow and pollen” with the hardness of “steel and wire” captures the essence of Modotti and Bella Dodd, and more generally the women of their pre-WW II generation. Be they revolutionaries struggling to change their world, or “Hell’s Kitchen” housewives (e.g. Lucia Santa “The Fortunate Pilgrim”) struggling to survive in their world, the Italian American women of that era are best characterized by the juxtaposition of gentleness (“snow and pollen”) on the one hand and resilience (“steel and wire”) on the other. /// /// 

Not so their progeny! Coming of age in the greatest economic boom in history, the post-war Italian Americans moved out of the “Hell’s Kitchens” to suburbia where cats were no longer mousers; rather pets. Life was good. Accordingly, the Italian American intelligentsia of the post-war manifested the softness of “snow and pollen”, but not the hardness of “steel and wire”. As the struggle to get food on the table gave way to the struggle to lose weight, revolution gave way to protestation. Ideas about working class revolutions gave way to protestations about racial segregation, women’s rights and sexual freedom. Thus for example, Daniela Gioseffi, the Italian American “Joan of Arc” according to the prominenti and literati ‘festschrift’ in “Pioneering Italian American Culture”; Gioseffi’s book is dedicated to “women who wish to be free to pursue their creative instincts and succeed at their art…” One wonders what Modotti and Dobb might think of women’s freedom of artistic expression vs. working class freedom from exploitation? /// /// The works of artists and intellectuals are windows into the mass culture. Comparative cultural studies entail the juxtaposition of the culturati in time and space. The comparison of pre-war Modotti and Dobbs with post-war Paglia and Gioseffi makes for interesting sociological insights into pre and post-war Italian American intelligentsia. Continue reading

July 21, 2014

Feast of San Lorenzo da Brindisi

Viva San Lorenzo!
July 21st is the Feast Day of San Lorenzo da Brindisi, Apostolic Doctor of the Church. Born Giulio Cesare Russo (1559), he joined the Capuchins at the age of sixteen, taking the name Lorenzo. He excelled in theology and philosophy, and had a gift for languages, including Hebrew. Famous for his ecstatic sermons, his tears were often blotted up and used to cure the sick. While in Germany to establish Capuchin convents, Saint Lorenzo was made the chief chaplain of the Imperial Army. Crucifix in hand, he is credited with leading the severely outnumbered Christian forces to victory against the Ottoman Turks during the Battle of Székesfehérvár in Hungary (1601). An adept negotiator, the Popes often employed him in settling disputes between Christian Monarchs. Saint Lorenzo died in Lisbon on July 22, 1619 after the completion of his final diplomatic mission. At the behest of the people of Naples, he secured from King Philip III of Spain the dismissal of the oppressive Viceroy Don Pedro Téllez de Girón, 3rd Duke of Osuna. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer in Honor of Saint Lawrence. The accompanying photo of The Glory of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi comes courtesy of Il Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali.

Prayer to Saint Lawrence

Lord, for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls gave Lawrence of Brindisi courage and right judgement. By prayers help us to know what we should do and give us the courage to do it. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Titan of the South: Salvator Rosa

Self portrait 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Aldo Lira
“Painter, Poet, Musician, Philosopher, and Patriot, he combined in his fine organisation the supreme elements of high art, with the noblest instincts of intellectual humanity. He worked through his great vocation with a spirit of independence that never quailed, and with unflinching resistance to the persecutions of despotism and the intrigues of professional rivalry. His moral dignity refused to pander to the licentious tastes of the profligate times in which he flourished, and, in this respect superior to many of his great predecessors, he left not one picture that,
‘_dying, he might blush to own,’
while he exhibited in his great historical compositions, "The Death of Regulus" and "The Conspiracy of Catiline," a graphic eloquence which Herodotus and Gibbon have scarcely surpassed.”
The above paragraph, from the Life and Times of Salvator Rosa by Lady Sydney Morgan, published in 1824, is only one of many lofty and effusive tributes paid to Salvator Rosa during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries by the artists, intellectuals and literati of the time. Who was Salvator Rosa and what did he do to inspire such admiration more than 150 years after his death? Continue reading