December 21, 2014

Happy Winter!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The occasion signifies the coming increase of sunlight and the slow return of spring. In honor of this wondrous cycle I would like to share a poem by Cosimo Savastano (b. 1939 – Castel di Sangro, Abruzzo) from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.69.
The Kindling
Tied to the packsaddle, my love,
is the firewood, brought down from the mountain. 

What hands will loosen the ropes
at dusk, once the north wind settles?

Tonight, we'll stoke the cinders
watch the swirl of sparks.
Hands locked, love rekindled,
spellbound, we will dream.
From the hearth my kindling will lord
over the house, filled with the scent of Christmas.

(Translated by Anthony Molino)

December 20, 2014

Two Marble Reliefs With Birds From Salerno at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Two Marble Reliefs with Birds, carved about 900-1100
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
With all my Christmas shopping done early, I took advantage of my day off from work by treating myself with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to seeing many of my old favorites and the Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche installation (see upcoming post), I discovered two marble reliefs with birds from the vicinity of Salerno.
According to the museum’s wall label
These reliefs are cut down from a larger composition and show an imaginary bird, a cock with a griffin-like head, and a peacock set within foliage and amphora. Both originate from Salerno, where they were said to have been built into masonry of a church. They were reused at a later date, and cut into their present forms. While their original function is unknown, they may have been part of a chancel screen, a low wall in front of the sanctuary of a church. The exotic and orientalizing birds reflect the rich interchange of design motifs between the Islamic, Sassanian, Byzantine, and south Italian cultures in the century 1000.

December 19, 2014

Christmas Italiano

Nativity with St. Lawrence and St. Andrew by Antoniazzo Romano
Photo courtesy of Made in South Italy Today
Reprinted from Made in South Italy Today
According to popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states "Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child.
Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Casper, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow the biblical account. Continue reading

December 18, 2014

Neapolitan Music for Christmas

Looking for some last-minute stocking stuffer ideas? Wrap up your Christmas shopping with a culturally rewarding gift. I highly recommend these CDs featuring 17th and 18th century Christmas music from Naples.
Peppe Barra: La Cantata Dei Pastori
Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas I
Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas II
All are available at Amazon.com

December 16, 2014

Michela Musolino and Friends to Perform at First Night Morris County

Photo courtesy of Michela Musolino
December 31st
(9:45 and 10:45)

A songstress known for the fiery and passionate Folk and Roots Music of Sicily, Musolino makes traditional pieces seem contemporary and turns world fusion music into timeless pieces. Singing on both sides of the Atlantic in venues such as Chicago’s Old Town School and the temples at Selinunte, Sicily, she enchants with a voice that seems to float between ages. Tonight, she is joined by guitarist and accordionist Phil Passantino and multi-instrumentalist and world percussionist, Michael Delia, who research and perform both Southern Italian folk music and world traditional folk. Join in a rousing celebration of the music of Sicily and Southern Italy.

Michela Musolino: www.michelamusolino.com
Phil Passantino: www.amazingceremonies.com
Michael Delia: http://mad.node9.org

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyUFs1DELuY

Site 15: Masonic Lodge Upstairs, 39 Maple Ave., 175 seats

For more info visit www.firstnightmorris.com

December 15, 2014

Titan of the South: Francesco Messina

Self Portrait
Photo courtesy of thais.it
By Giovanni di Napoli
Francesco Messina was born on December 15, 1900 in Linguaglossa, a small town near Catania, languishing in the shadow of Mount Etna. Like many other poor Southerners he grew up outside his native Sicily, residing wherever his family could find work.
Instead of making the arduous trip across the Atlantic to the United States his father decided to try his luck in Genoa, a major port of call during the Mezzogiorno's post-unification diaspora.
In Genoa, Messina apprenticed as a marble cutter. At an early age he showed great artistic ability carving cherubs for cemeteries. Clearly destined to be a sculptor the boy practiced tirelessly, developing his skills in various mediums and excelling in terracotta and bronze.
By the age of twenty he was already presenting his work in major European exhibits. The Sicilian had a great fondness for depicting the human form and was a proponent of naturalism in sculpture at a time when it was unfashionable. Continue reading

December 14, 2014

Feast of Sant'Agnello di Napoli

Sant'Agnello di Napoli, Rodio
By Giovanni di Napoli
December 14th is the Feast Day of Sant'Agnello di Napoli, miracle worker and patron of Naples. Born in 535, it is said his parents, Giovanna and Federico, were nobles from Siracusa, Sicily, and (according to some) distantly related to Santa Lucia. Having great difficulty conceiving a child the couple invoked the Madonna on the heights of Caponapoli, the site of the city's ancient acropolis. Grateful for granting their petition, the joyous parents fulfilled their votive promise and founded the Chiesa di Santa Maria Intercede at the location of the blessing. 
According to legend, Sant'Agnello was only 20-days-old when he first spoke; saying "Hail Mary" before a statue of the Blessed Mother. At the age of fifteen he chose the ascetic life of a hermit, living for several years in solitude, praying and meditating. During this period, he may have visited Guarcino in Lazio and the Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo, an important destination for pilgrims in the Gargano region of Apulia. 
Drawn to his great reputation for holiness, exiled monks from Abitina persuaded Sant'Agnello to become their abbot at the monastery of San Gaudioso in Naples. With his inheritance he built a hospital, gave alms to the poor and worked tirelessly with the needy. His hagiography is replete with stories of healing miracles, as well as punishments meted out to those who are blasphemous and negligent with their veneration.
Sant'Agnello di Napoli, Pisciotta
Photo courtesy of pisciotta.net
Sant'Agnello died on December 14, 596. His relics were enshrined in the Chiesa di Sant'Agnello Maggiore Caponapoli, formally Santa Maria Intercede, which was renamed in his honor. Seriously damaged by indiscriminate Allied bombings during WWII, the church finally reopened in 2011 after a long restoration. Fragments of the original Greek temple were unearthed and are now on display. Sadly, all that remains of the former church is the high altar, a Renaissance masterpiece by Girolamo Santacroce of Nola. 
One of the early co-patrons of Naples, Sant'Agnello's cult spread beyond the city and its environs to the neighboring areas of Sorrento, Frosinone and the Cilento, most notably the towns of Pisciotta and Rodio. During the High Middle Ages the Tuscan city of Lucca claimed him as one of their patrons and believe the Saint's body was translated to the Duomo di San Martino. Controversy surrounds its authenticity as both Lucca and the Duomo di San Gennaro in Naples claim to be in possession of his relics. In modern times his devotion was brought to the New World by Neapolitan immigrants.  
Sant'Agnello is typically depicted bearing the banner of the Cross in his right hand and the Holy Scriptures in his left. These emblems, symbolizing faith, redemption and truth, also represent his patronage of Naples and his protection against invaders. During the Longobard Siege of Naples in 581 he appeared before the Neapolitans, banner blazoning, giving them the fortitude to drive off the attackers. The Neapolitan victory was attributed to the Saint's intercession. Legend has it this feat was repeated in 674 when Saracen raiders were put to flight after his apparition raised the standard of the cross.
In commemoration I'm posting Canto dei Pellegrini, Song of the Pilgrims.(1)

Canto dei Pellegrini
(Arc. GIOVANNI can. MAIESE)


Agnel dolcissimo,
Da te partiamo
Ma il cor che palpita
Noi qui lasciamo.

D'amor purissimo
Ognor l'accendi:
Tu dai pericoli
Sempre il difendi.

Le nostre fervide
Preci al Signore
Per te s'innalzano
Angel d'amore.

Di questo popolo
Che parte in pianto
Il voto supplice
Odi, o gran Santo.

Chi vuole grazie
Ricorre a te,
O Sant'Agnello
Prega per me.


(1) Canto dei Pellegrini was reprinted fromsantuariosantagnellorodio.it

December 13, 2014

Santa Lucia of Siracusa

Santa Lucia, 
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, East Harlem
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
December 13th is the feast day of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy). According to the old Julian calendar this day marked the longest night of the year, or winter solstice, suggesting older, pre-Christian roots to her veneration. Patroness of the blind, her name derives from the Latin lux, which means light. Santa Lucia is also associated with the harvest and Sicilians customarily celebrate her feast day with cuccia, a hearty porridge made with wheat berries.
Tradition has it that Lucia was born about 283 AD in Siracusa, the seat of the Roman government on the island of Sicily. She was the daughter of a wealthy Roman nobleman who died when she was very young. Her ailing mother, Eutychia, may have been of Greek stock.
Inspired by the martyrdom of Saint Agatha, who perished in 251 AD during the Christian persecutions of Emperor Decius, Lucia devoted herself to a life of Christian piety. However, when she came of age Eutychia arranged for her to marry a pagan suitor. Lucia implored her mother to allow her to remain chaste and distribute her dowry to the poor. Continue reading

Award-Winning Tenor Micheal Castaldo and The Scarsdale Strings to Perform “An Italian Christmas Journey”

December 9, 2014 (White Plains, NY) — “An Italian Christmas Journey,” a traditional Christmas concert featuring award-winning Italian tenor Micheal Castaldo will take place on Monday, December 22, 2014 at 7:30p.m. at The White Plains Performing Arts Center 11 City Place, 3rd Floor, White Plains, NY 10601.  
Castaldo will perform classic Christmas carols from his chart topping best-selling album, "Extravergine: Christmas in the Mediterranean," accompanied by the Scarsdale Strings Quartet. Tickets are available for $42 at 914-328-1600 or online at www.wppac.com

This concert will capture your heart and imagination with the spirit of the holidays in the beautiful WPPAC. Even those who don't speak Italian will be moved by the setting, the songs, and by Micheal's powerful and melodic voice. Over the past ten years Michéal Castaldo has entertained more than 500,000 people across the USA, Canada, and Europe with creative and rousing renditions of classic Italian songs. Castaldo’s performances are enchanting, heartfelt, and authentic. He treats the audience to stories, spoken in English, in between songs that share moments from his Italian upbringing, tidbits about his musical journey, and insight that went into his song choices. All songs are sung in Italian with a few sung in English as well.

Live performance of songs from Castaldo’s Extravergine CD will include "Oh Santa Notte" (Oh Holy Night), "E Nato Il Bambino Gesu" (What Child Is This?), "Batte Nel Cuore, Suona Natale" (Little Drummer Boy), "Gioia Nel Mondo" (Joy To The World), "Puoi Sentire Quel' Che Sent Io?" (Do You Hear What I Hear?), and "Astro Del Ciel" (Silent Night).  Castaldo translated the well-known Polish carol, "Jezus Malusuenki" now entitled, "Piccolo Jesu," which will also be featured along with "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," "Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle," "VA PENSIERO," and "Adeste Fideles." 
Cibelli Productions & Majestic Castle Music Productions are partnering to help promote the Italian culture and heritage at this Italian Christmas concert.
Tickets are available for $42 at 914-328-1600 or online at www.wppac.com 
For more information or to request an interview with the artist, go to www.michealCASTALDO.com
Contact Majestic Castle Music at 877-642-7271 or at majesticcastlemusic@yahoo.com

December 12, 2014

John Miniero's Presepe Napoletano

A Christmas Tradition in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
John Miniero with his masterpiece
By Giovanni di Napoli

Last week (Dec. 4th) during Anita Sanseverino's Presepe Napoletano lecture and photo exhibit at the Italian American Museum I had the pleasure of meeting John Miniero, a local artisan who keeps the Neapolitan tradition of presepi making. Mr. Miniero, a retired baker, was nice enough to bring a few examples of his handiwork for the museum to exhibit.

After the presentation, while I was admiring his work, he shared some of his modeling techniques with me, as well as what kind of tools and materials he uses to build the scenery. Because of the detailed work that goes into his creations, each one takes him a couple of days to make.

Mr. Miniero, I learned, also displays a giant outdoor presepe in front of his house in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Seeing my interest in the art form, he kindly invited me over to take a look.

So the next day after work I took Mr. Miniero up on his offer and made my way to 14th Avenue, between 79th and 80th Streets. When I arrived, I was blown away by the sheer size of the presepe. Spanning the length of his front yard, the intricate diorama—made with wood, cork, paper and paint—was covered with a multitude of characters, from the Magi to Pulcinella. The impressive collection, portraying vignettes of everyday life from 18th century Naples, was acquired over the years from his native Sorrento, Napoli and various hobby shops around Brooklyn.

To the delight of the community, Mr. Miniero has been constructing his presepe for nearly 20 years. Never put together the same way twice, the display is always growing with new additions. The multi-leveled diorama—complete with scenic backdrops, hidden grottos and mirrors that create the illusion of more space—even has running water; hidden water pumps feed flowing brooks, fountains and waterfalls.

Naturally, his house has become one of the stops on the now popular Dyker Heights Christmas Lights bus tours, and the whole time I was there talking with him, people walking and driving by in cars were stopping to take photos. It was great to see so many people taking an interest in his work. I felt privileged to see it and experience his love of the tradition. 
A bustling tavern
A dinner party with Pulcinella
A town in the distance
A look inside the manger
A bakery
Scenes from an open air market
A shepherd with his flock  
Up the stairway towards the manger
Figures performing domestic choirs
Pilgrims making the journey towards the manger
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

December 11, 2014

Zampogna and Zampognari

Photo courtesy of Made in South Italy Today
Past events and traditions, such as Christmas, were much more suggestive than those practiced today.
One of these traditions, that of the 'zampognari' could almost be described as a myth and just one of those important phenomena which today seems to be enjoying a timid, but a strong and steady revival.
The zampognaro is that ancient mythical figure inextricably linked to that of shepherds and their nomadic pastoral way of life, spent looking after herds of sheep and goats away from home. Continue reading

Announcing "La Cantata Dei Pastori: A Neapolitan Renaissance Christmas Concert" at the Italian American Museum

Saturday, December 13th (8:00pm)
Sunday, December 14th (3:00pm)
Presented by I Giullari Di Piazza

Featuring Neapolitan singer/actor Giuseppe De Falco, La Cantata dei Pastori is a Neapolitan Renaissance Christmas concert written and directed by Alessandra Belloni with music composed and arranged by John La Barbera. I Giullari Di Piazza and the commedia dell'arte characters enact this beloved story of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the triumph of good over evil. The music—tarantellas, villanellas and pastorals—comes from traditional sources, with original music by John La Barbera. La Cantata dei Pastori is still performed annually during the Christmas season in the environs of Naples.

$25 per person

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
(Corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10013
Suggested donation of $10

To reserve a place for this event, please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

Also see:
The Song of the Shepherds in NYC

December 10, 2014

Blessing the Flags

Benediction at the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Pozzo in Capurso, Bari
On December 8th, during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, people across southern Italy revived the old custom of blessing the flags of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. We are grateful to our friends at the Comitati delle Due Sicilie, Le Città del Sud, and others, for sharing their photos so that we, from a distance, can also feel part of the benediction. As always, it is great to see the national flag of our ancestors fly again.
Photos by Don Luciano Rotolo courtesy of Comitati Due Sicilie

The Best of a Bad Thing

Marshal of Italy, Giovanni Messe 
Giovanni Messe
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
By Niccolò Graffio
“A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible.” – Polybius: Histories; I, c. 125 B.C.
It had been 54 years since the creation of the pseudo-nation of Italy by the intrigues of the Kingdom of Sardinia, “the Prussia of Italy” in 1861 when its amoral royals, the House of Savoy, decided to join in the disaster to Western Civilization known today as the First World War (1914-18).  The Savoy foolishly believed they could turn their nascent state into something resembling an empire.  That they needed help from France to defeat Austria-Hungary just in order to seize Lombardy mattered little to them.  King Victor Emmanuel III deluded himself and his sycophants into believing the small, hodgepodge Kingdom of Italy could rub elbows with the big boys on the international stage.
It takes generations to create and foster a true martial tradition in a country; something even a cursory examination of the history books would show.  Discipline, honor, loyalty and a strong sense of patriotism are all required, and these were sorely lacking in a country where the inhabitants of the northern 1/3 of the country basically leeched off the sweat of the inhabitants of the other 2/3.  A strong and experienced high command is also required; one that is built by promoting on the basis of merit and ability. Continue reading

December 9, 2014

The Presepe Napoletano Returns to the IAM With Anita Sanseverino and Lou Barrella

Lou Barrella and Anita Sanseverino
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Last Thursday (Dec. 4th) I returned to the Italian American Museum (IAM) for the annual Presepe Napoletano lecture and photo exhibit with Anita Sanseverino. I’ve been attending Anita’s presentation at the museum since 2009, and each year it gets bigger and better. All-encompassing, she covers everything about this fascinating Christmas custom, from its humble origins with Saint Francis of Assisi in the 13th century, to the golden age under the Neapolitan Bourbons, to today's artisans and their world famous workshops on the Via San Gregorio Armeno in Naples.
The event was heightened with a fantastic new audiovisual presentation by Lou Barrella, illustrating the manifold techniques and materials used in making these charming figures and highly elaborate dioramas replete with symbolism.

This year we finally got to meet Mr. Barrella, the man behind the DVD, who briefly spoke about his own interest in the presepi. Matching Anita’s passion for the tradition, Mr. Barrella put together a phenomenal video montage featuring many of Anita’s photos accompanied by some of Italy’s most popular Christmas music, putting us all in the festive spirit.
Joining our speakers were John Miniero and Gianvito Bottalico, two very talented presepi builders, who were kind enough to loan examples of their work to the museum. Mr. Miniero, I learned, has been displaying a large outdoor presepe for nearly twenty years in front of his house in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. He was kind enough to invite me over for a look [see upcoming post].
In addition to Anita’s spectacular photos, I was happy to discover that the IAM is once again home to the Presepe della Pace, or “Nativity of Peace.” The 18th century style presepe comes from the famed Ferrigno workshop in Naples and was generously donated to the Federazione delle Associazioni della Campania USA after the events of 9/11 by the President of the Region of Campania, Antonio Bassolino. 
Anita’s photos and the Presepe della Pace will be on display in the museum’s gallery throughout the Christmas season.
John Miniero with some of his presepi
A close-up of Mr. Miniero's presepe
Gianvito Bottalico shows us his presepe 
The Presepe della Pace 
St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary
Pulcinella
A fishmonger

December 8, 2014

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (ca. 1680)
Gilt bronze and silver, probably after a model by Lorenzo Vaccaro 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
December 8th is the Feast of Santa Maria della Concezione (St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception), Patroness of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and The United States of America. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to the Immaculate Conception. The accompanying photos were taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Buona Immacolata!
Prayer to the Immaculate Conception
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

December 7, 2014

The Search for our Ancestry (VII)

How do you spell that?
By Angelo Coniglio
I’ve reviewed factors that are important in determining an immigrant ancestor’s name as it was used in Italy and Sicily.  Once the name is known it can be used in searching for other information about the person, that is, the other genealogic ‘keys’: date of immigration, date of birth, and town of birth.  Future columns will contain many references to various types of American and Mezzogiorno records, which often are indexed so that a record may be searched for by a person’s name, address, or other identifier.
Such searches may be undertaken at local libraries, churches, civil offices, genealogic societies and other repositories of paper documents, or they may be done on line using sites like the free Mormon church site https://www.familysearch.org/ the subscription site http://www.Ancestry.com or the official Italian ‘Antenati’ (ancestors) site at  http://bit.ly/ItalianRecordsPortal 
Whatever form the search takes, be forewarned that even though you may think you know the ‘correct’ spelling of an ancestor’s name or place of origin or residence, it may be mis-spelled or mis-recorded in the documents you are searching.  
Consider these errors to watch out for on records and indices:
Mis-spelling on original documents.  Often our ancestors were illiterate.  The Mezzogiorno and Sicily were poor, depressed areas, and literacy was vitually non-existent among the common folks.  This meant that a name on a record, even an original record, was spelled in whatever way the clerk making out the document thought it should be spelled.  If later records were made by someone who spoke a different language than your ancestor, as in census documents, even more errors could be introduced.
Mis-spelling by computer transcribers.  When records are transcribed into on-line computer databases, the work is done by ‘indexers’ who read the original document and ‘digitize’ the information, so that it can be searched for by a person’s name.  An image of the record is placed on line, and some sort of search engine is used for you to enter the name.  If the name you enter is in the data base, the proper image of your ancestor’s document is displayed.  However, the indexer may not be an Italian-speaker, and may not recognize archaic handwriting, so he may have transcribed the name incorrectly.  If so, searching with the right name or the name commonly accepted by your family may not yield results!
Mis-spelling by sound.  If the record is one for which an ancestor (even if literate) pronounced his name, but it was written by another person, as in a census or license application, that person may have mis-heard the name: Andolino for Andolina, De Marco for Di Marco, etc.
Mis-spelling by looks.  An indexer unfamiliar with archaic handwriting and with Italian names may mistake one look-alike letter for another (u for n, j for i, i for e, etc.)   A common error is to transpose i and u, spelling GUIDO as GIUDO, GIUSEPPE as GUISEPPE, and so on.
Switching given and surnames. Italians often said their surnames first, as in Alessi Rosa, Coniglio Gaetano, etc. An English-speaking clerk or indexer unfamiliar with this custom, and with the names themselves, might write the first name as the surname, and vice versa.
The moral of all this is that when you search for an ancestor’s record by name, don’t give up if you don’t get results for a name that you “know” is right.  Try spelling the name differently, as it would sound, or replace “i” by “e”, or try the person’s last name as the first name in the search, etc.  Be flexible.  You may be surprised to learn how some of your ancestors’ names were listed!
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel (La Ruotaia), based on his genealogical research of Sicilian foundlings.Order the book in paperback or on Kindle at www.bit.ly/racalmuto. Visit his website, www.bit.ly/AFCGen, and write to him at genealogytips@aol.com.

December 6, 2014

Feast of San Nicola di Bari

San Nicola di Bari, Sacred Heart Italian Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
December 6th is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the wonderworker, patron saint of children and sailors. His generosity and love for young ones is the inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus. 
San Nicola di Bari,
Saint Dominic RC Church
Born in the Lycian city of Patara in the third century, Saint Nicholas dedicated his life to God and served as bishop of Myra until his death in 343 AD. Many miracles were attributed to him and his tomb became a popular destination for pilgrims. The Saint's bones also exuded manna, a clear liquid that was reputed to have healing properties. 
In 1087, after Myra fell under the control of the Seljuk Empire, Barese mariners spirited his relics back to Bari before they could be desecrated. The translation of his relics to the Basilica di San Nicola was cause for celebration and each May 9th, with great fanfare, the Barese reenact his arrival by taking a statue and icon of the Saint out to sea and back again. The miracle of the manna continues to this very day. Holy water infused with the precious liquid is distributed to the faithful. 
San Nicola in Gloria by Luca Giordano,
Museo Civico, Napoli 
To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting A Prayer For Children. The accompanying photos of Saint Nicholas were taken at Sacred Heart Italian Church in Boston's historic North End, Saint Dominic RC Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and the Museo Civico inside the Castelnuovo in Naples.
A Prayer For Children
God, Our Father, we pray that through the intercession of Saint Nicholas you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy of Your sight.
Give them strength to keep their Faith in You, and to keep alive their joy in Your creation. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

December 5, 2014

Out of the Jaws of Defeat

The True Story of How One Man Turned a Disaster into a Victory
Marshal Armando Diaz of Italy
Photo courtesy of corrieredelsud.it
By Niccolò Graffio
“It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible.” – H.W. Beecher: Royal Truths, 1862
When one in this country thinks of war, invariably the subject of World War II comes to mind. Small wonder, since this war has been given the most coverage by the mass media and Hollywood, not without reason. Of all the wars fought by man, it is unquestionably the one with the greatest death toll (50 million to 70+ million, depending on sources). World War II stands out especially for the enormous number of civilian casualties. These casualties were either due to the terror bombings of enemy cities (ex: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden) or the deliberate mass murders of entire civilian populations (ex: the victims of Nazi, Japanese and Soviet policies of extermination). If one includes victims of war-related pestilence and famine, the death toll goes much higher.
After World War II, perhaps the next, best known war to Americans is the American Civil War (or as it is called in some parts of this country, The War Between the States). Many of the more famous battles fought during this conflict, such as Shiloh, Antietam and Gettysburg, are “recreated” by historical societies in the areas where they were fought. This is done both to keep the memory of these battles alive in the minds of the locals, and of course, to separate tourists from their monies. Continue reading