Since 1908 the n.1 source of all things Italian featuring Italian news, culture, business and travel

Issue link: https://italoamericanodigital.uberflip.com/i/165942

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 23

THURS DAY,   S EPTEMBER  5,   2013 Dear Readers, September is a month with many Italian connections. Rocky Marciano (Rocco Marchegiano), World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, after defeating "Jersey Joe", won all of his 49 professional fights, and forty three of them were by knockouts. Marciano was born in Brockton, Massachusetts on More September dates with an Italian connection: Luciano Pavarotti died on September 7, 2007 and crowds thronged into Modena's Cathedral to say their farewells to Italy's great tenor at his funeral. The imposing, black-bearded figure was laid out in an open white casket in black coat and tails, holding his signature white handkerchief, Rocky Marciano September 1, 1924. *** Octavian, Julius Caesar's nephew (later bestowed the title Augustus), became the sole ruler of the Roman World after defeating the fleet of Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 B.C. *** Luigi Galvani, the Italian scientist and professor of anatomy at the university of Bologna, whose discoveries in the field of electricity have given us the word "galvanize" was born September 9, 1737. *** Elsa Schiaparelli, an innovator in the early French fashion industry with colors, accessories, introduction of padded shoulders in 1936 and shocking pink in 1947, was born in Rome on September 10, 1896. *** Dante Alighieri, poet and author of the Divine Comedy, the first epic written in Italian, died on September 14, 1321. *** Sir Anthony Panizzi, who developed the world-famous British Museum and Library in London, was born on September 16, 1797. *** Sophia Loren (Sofia Scicolone) was so skinny she was nicknamed "stecchetta" (the stick) was born in an industrial neighborhood of Naples, Pozzuoli, on September 20, 1934. *** Octavian, the future emperor Augustus, was born on September 23, 63 B.C. *** Gaetano Lanza, founder of M.I.T.'s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) School of Engineering, was born September 26, 1848. *** his fingers entwined with rosary beads. Among the floral tributes was a little posy of pink roses from the tenor's four-year-old daughter Alice, framing a drawing she did for her Dad and her name in shaky capital letters. Local people who used to chat with the gregarious tenor joined with foreign fans who rushed to Italy as soon as they heard the news of his death from cancer at the age of 71. As they filed up to the coffin at an estimated rate of 2,000 per hour, they received a photograph of a smiling Pavarotti. The crowd was so big workers had to push back a cordon to keep it orderly, while a breach was opened for Italian President Giorgio Napolitano to walk through. As he left the cathedral the president said: "I decided to personally represent the emotion and recognition of Italians from all parts and walks of life for a man who spread everywhere he wentthe most sincere voice and image of Italy. Luciano Pavarotti honored Italy. Italy honors Luciano Pavarotti," he said. His first chart-topping pop partner Zucchero said, "I hope St. Peter welcomes you with a chunk of Parmesan and a bottle of chilled Lambrusco, the way you like it". The tenor was laid to rest at a local cemetery alongside his parents and Riccardo, Alice's stillborn brother. The great tenor is gone, but Pavarotti's hit "Vincerò" aria from Puccini's Turandot continues to inspire Italian soccer teams to victory. *** The Rex, the largest and most luxurious ocean liner ever commissioned by Italy's Navigazione Generale Italiana line was launched in 1932. It was destroyed during WWII on September 7, 1944. The Rex, while never pressed into mili- L'Italo-Americano tary service was exposed and vulnerable to Allied bombers. While steaming up the Adriatic to seek shelter at the port of Capo d'Istria on September 7, 1944, the ship was relentlessly attacked by British fighter planes. Though wholly defenseless, the gigantic liner stalwartly endured 48 hours of assault before finally sinking. Before the Second World War, Benito Mussolini had pledged to turn Italy into a great economic power and make made in Italy products a source of national pride. With encouragement anddirect government assistance, the Italian lines started redirecting their business toward the tourist trade with the intention of changing their primary passengers from poor Italians bound for America to wealthy Americans cruising to Italy. The construction of luxury ocean liners became a major activity at Italian shipyards. The biggest and most stunning of these, commissioned by the Navigazione Generale Italiana line and launched in 1932, was the 51,000-ton Rex. Comfortably accommodating 2,260 passengers, the vessel was the largest ship ever built in Italy, and Italy's answer in size, power and speed, to the great British luxury liners like the Queen Mary that dominated the ocean lines. No black-tie opulence of British ships however, the ambiance on the Rex was deliberately aimed at the evolving American idea of vacation, in which fun and relaxation were given top priority. With its swimming pools, reclining deck chairs, beach umbrellas, and resort-like atmosphere, the Rex was the first to promote the concept of the modern luxury cruise in which a voyage was not simply the means to a vacation, but a festive vacation itself. Alongside its "fun in the sun" character, the Rex offered an equal measure of impressive opulence, boasting an enormous, Italian baroque ballroom, graceful chandeliers, and all the luxurious amenities which wealthy travelers had come to expect on ocean liners. *** Rudy Giuliani was the Mayor of New York City when tragedy struck on September 11, 2001, and he rose immediately to the challenge of bringing solid leadership to the city. Prior to the morning of September 11th, when a plane struck the first tower of the World Trade Center, Mayor Giuliani had been in office nearly eight years (ending Dec. 31, 2001) and had given his detractor much fodder for criticism, both in his political and private life, that included a cold estrangement from his wife Donna Hanover, mother of his two children, Andrew, 15 and Caroline, 12, and his openly new relationship with Judith Nathan, however, on September 11th, it was forgotten and no one could deny his leadership and that to Rudy Giuliani this attack was like an attack on his family and all New yorkers were his family. Giuliani personally attended as many funerals as possible and sent his Fire and Police PAGE  23 Commissioners to others to let families know how important their husband, father or child was to the city and visited "Ground Zero" often twice a day and helped construction workers clear away debris. Rudy Giuliani was born in Brooklyn, the only child of Harold and Helen Giuliani. In high school he started an opera club and dreamed of becoming a doctor or priest. But at Manhattan College his interests turn to law and politics, and in 1968 he graduated magna cum laude from New York University Law School. In 1981 he was named associate attorney general in Washington D.C., and in 1983 became U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he gained a reputation for fighting organized crime and corruption. In 1989 he lost the mayoral election, but four years later he ran again and won. *** San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) is the patron saint of Naples, but long before any of us little Italian American kids living in New York knew about that or the miracle of the Saint's dried blood liquefying, we knew that "La Festa di San Gennaro" was the biggest Italian Festa in town and looked forward to the fireworks, Italian ices, sweet treats, music and fun we would have at the San Gennaro Festival each September. Unlike some of the Saints, we easily recognized from seeing their statues in many churches or on religious picture cards, most of us did not know much about San Gennaro except that in September, thousands of visitors would cram into the narrow streets of "Little Italy" to celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro. The festival, begun in 1926, was promoted as an annual event by early immigrants from Naples. Here is a little info on San Gennaro: According to legend he was bishop of Benevento and held office during the persecution of Christians by Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, circa 300 AD. Januarius heard that four men had been arrested and were facing death sentences charged with being Christian. Gennaro disregarded his own safety and went to visit the imprisoned men to comfort them and to provide some spiritual support. Januarius' visit soon became common knowledge and he was promptly jailed along with his Christian cohorts and two other Christians. The next weekend, the prisoners became sport at the local coliseum and all were thrown in to be torn apart by wild beasts especially trained for that purpose. Interestingly, the beasts refused to perform. They simply walked around and around the huddled Christians and then sauntered off to their underground pens. The local prelate, Timoteo, was furious; he then ordered the Christians dragged behind a chariot until their bodies became shreds; that too, did not work. In desperation, Timoteo ordered the coup de grace: decapitation. That was successful. With a few strokes of the executioner's sword, seven Christians martyrs were made. According to the legend, a woman named Eusebia collected the blood of Januarius in several glass vials. The vials and other parts of Januarius were collected by the faithful and buried at secret locations. Under the rule of Emperor Constantine in 313AD, the persecutions of Christians ended. The Neapolitans exhumed the remains of Januarius and transferred them to the catacombs of Naples. In 1497, Cardinal Alessandro Carafa had some of the saint's relics, along with the vials of dried blood, stored at the Cathedral of Naples. Every September 19, a solemn ceremony is held before St. Januarius' shrine. The archbishop of Naples brings out a small glass vial from the Cathedral safe. Inside the vial appears a solid dark mass believed to be the dried blood of Saint Januarius. Before a throng of praying laity and clergy, the archbishop carries the vial to a reliquary that contains the skull of the saint and presents it centered and agitated before the altar. If the solid mass becomes liquid, the archbishop holds the relic aloft, turning it in all four directions so that the crowd can see the liquid sloshing around inside the vial. The archbishop then cries "The miracle has happened!" At this signal, everyone in the church surges forward to kiss the relic. Outside, the miracle is announced with the firing of a twenty-one cannon salute and the people of Naples cheer and for the next eight days, the people of Naples celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro. Various attempts have been made to find a scientific explanation as to why something solid should suddenly liquefy, but Church officials in Naples have been adamant in their refusal to permit scientists to break the seal on the vial and take a sample of whatever is inside. There have been occasions when the blood did not liquefy, which Neapolitans take as a warning from the saint; and there have been occasions when the blood liquefied spontaneously- all unexplained. Ad hoc scientific organizations, such as the Italian Association for the Study of the Paranormal, claim that the vial contains an iron-based chemical compound that is in a solid state until it is shaken, then it liquefies. An official who is a guardian of the vial and its contents once stated that the Church had conducted tests on the vial which showed that its contents included hemoglobin, a key element of blood. Saint Januarius has been invoked against volcanic blasts since 1631, when a violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius threatened Naples. The people of the city called on their saint to help them and, by his prayers, the flow of lava stopped without affecting the city. Regardless of the conflict between the Church and science, "San Gennaro" will continue to be feted in September in the U.S.A., Italy and other countries where large numbers of "Neapolitans" may live. ***

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of L'Italo-Americano - italoamericano-digital-9-5-2013