Saturday, February 11, 2012

What was that name again?

1. Taking the Statue of Saint Joseph down from his niche in San Lorenzo for the feast of Saint Joseph in Malfa.
2. The end of the procession as it arrives at San Lorenzo for the feast of San Giuseppe. The church was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1926 and finished in 1933.
3. The banquet and beggars at the feast of Saint Joseph in Malfa.
4. The Cathedral of San Bartolomeo in Lipari.
5. Statue in silver of Saint Bartholomew in the Norman and much refurbished cathedral of San Bartolomeo in Lipari.
6. Statue of Saint Anthony of Padua in the church of San Lorenzo in Malfa.

Philip Anerio

Saint Philip Neri born in Florence, He spent much of his life in Rome, but passed his apprenticeship years in Campagna in the town of San Germano at the base of the hill where Monte Cassino monastery is located. It was there that his calling was revealed to him.

"A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one."
Saint Philip Romolo Neri (Italian: Filippo Neri) (7/21/1515 – 5/25/1595), also known as Apostle of Rome, was an Italian priest, founded a society of secular priests called the "Congregation of the Oratory".

It also may refer to the Reverend Mr. Giovanni Francesco Anerio(A lay member of the Oratorio is not necessarily ordained?) composer of sacred music. His family was devoted to St Philip, and he was closely associated with St Philip's Oratorio in Rome.

St. Philip's feast day is May 26.


This refers to Saint Onofrio.

Sicilians pray to Saint Onuphrius to help them find lost articles. The usual prayer mention the miraculous properties of Saint Onuphrius' hair. Supposedly if you repeat any variation of the prayer to him while looking for the article that is lost, it will help to find it faster.

Onuphrius/Onoufrios (Greek and Egyptian: Wnn-nfr meaning "he-who-is-continuously-good". He is Saint Onuphrius in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches he is Venerable Onuphrius in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Saint Nofer the Anchorite in Oriental Orthodoxy. He was a hermit in the desert of Upper Egypt in the 4th or 5th centuries.
He became one of the patron saints of Palermo in 1650. there is a church dedicated to him in Pollara. Particular interest in him may have been imported from Calabria.
One of the stories associated with him has a strange gender switch. Onofrio was born a girl according to this tradition, and wanting to preserve her virginity in her life devoted to god, she prayed to become a man, and this was granted to her.
Onofrio was very like any number of hermits who lived in the desert at this time, but the story of his/her gender switch and the fact that he was supposedly visited only by the holy spirit who delivered the host to him each week in the desert, singled him out. Also an account by a cleric who visited him on the day of his death was much publicised. He was said to be dressed only in his miraculously long hair and a loincloth of leaves...where he got the leaves in the desert is up to you to decide.
Also Humphrey and a number of other variations of the name exist.
See also Piazza Ugo San Onofrio in Lipari. His feast day is June 12.


When you know that this translates to Joseph, I think that all is obvious. This name honors Saint Joseph. The feast day of Saint Joseph is celebrated everywhere in the islands and indeed all of Sicily with special cakes and pastries and a chick pea and pasta soup. His feast day is celebrated on March 19th in Malfa and on the third Sunday of the month in Lingua. Another is celebrated in Leni on the 1st of May.

A large banquet is laid out in front of the church in Malfa after two huge pots are carried up from the main street of town. They are filled with soup cooked on an open fire, then poles are slipped through the handles of the pots to be carried by two men. There is a large cake and most of the local people will carry platters of their home made specialties in the procession to the church of San Lorenzo at the top of the town.

Once the banquet is laid out, the mock holy family who led the procession is seated at the table while everyone else is separated from the table by barriers. The townspeople beg at the barrier for food, and are given small portions by people serving from within. The soup is served to all who crowd around the pots, and a demi-john of red wine is set out between the staircases of the church.


Thomas and also St. Cajetan, is usually used as a translation for this name. His feast is celebrated on Lipari and at Rinella on the 6th,7th(his feast day) and 8th of August. There is a fish festival coinciding with it in Lipari and a procession of boats off Rinella. Though from Vicenza, he spent much of his life in Rome where he was an intimate of the popes there, and escaped to Venice when the city was sacked in 1527. He founded hospitals and the Oratory of Love. He founded a house of the Theatine order in Naples in 1533 where he spent the rest of his life. As with many saints of this time period, he is credited with the check of Lutheranism, this time in Naples.


This name honors Saint Lorenzo or Lawrence of Rome. The church at the top of the town in Malfa is San Lorenzo.
Saint Lawrence or Laurentius 225-258 AD was one of the seven Deacons of Rome. He was ordered by the Romans to give up the riches of the church. He quickly distributed all the wealth of the church to the poor of the city, and when the payment was demanded, he presented the Romans with the poor and downtrodden of the city as the true riches of the church. There are similar stories associated with other early Christians. He was said to be martyred as a result of this defiance. Tradition says that he was seared on a gridiron. He is said to have lain on the gridiron, then saying that he was done on that side, and it was time to turn him over. Great story, but it may have arisen from the mistranslation of the words "he suffered" as "he was roasted".
His feast is celebrated on August 10th in Malfa, and is one of the most widely celebrated of all saints.

Bartolomeo or Nathaniel(in the New Testament)

Batholomew, Batolomeo,Bartolo and Bert are common variations. He was one of the twelve apostles. He was introduced to Jesus by Philip. He became a missionary as did the other apostles. some say he went to India to spread the word. Also he is supposed to have gone to Mesopotamia, Ethiopia and many other far flung places and finally to Armenia. One tradition says that he was beheaded, and another that he was flayed alive and crucified head downwards in Albanopolis in Armenia. His name means: son of the furrows in Aramaic, and may mean that he was a plowman.
His relics were said to have been washed ashore on the Island of Lipari in a lead coffin, though his resting place in 507 was Dara-Europus in Asia Minor. His body was kept in the cathedral of St Bartholomew in Lipari. By 803, he was moved to Benevento and on to Rome in 983. His arm is in Frankfurt and part of his skull is in Canterbury Cathedral.
He is honored from August 21st to 24th in Lipari, but his traditional feast day falls on the 29th. September 11th in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

He has a special association with hospitals.


We all know about Mary and I do not need to go into detail about her. On the islands, perhaps all over the country, Mary is usually paired with another name. One I find fun to say is the pairing of Mary and Joseph. This becomes Maria Giuseppa. I was told by Catherine Marchetti, also known as Catherine Santospirito in Malfa, that the double names were slurred together...perhaps in a fit of impatience most MARAGIUSEP...say it fast.


Anne was the mother of Mary and was descended from the house of David. There is a church at Capo Faro dedicated to her and her feast is celebrated on July 26th. The name comes from the Hebrew Hanna which means "Grace" or "Favor". She is not very widely venerated in the west, but the eastern churches celebrate her in a number of different occasions. The term Immaculate Conception actually refers to the fact that Mary was born from Anna without the help of a man. This may seem strange as traditions say that she may have had as many as three very real husbands.

Margaret, Pelagia, Margarita, Marina.

Santa Marina or Margaret of Antioch was the daughter of a pagan priest who cast her out. She was given refuge by a shepherdess and became one herself. She was offered marriage by a local governor if she would renounce her Christianity. When she would not, she was tortured. Her feast is celebrated on July 20 in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches and on the 17th by Eastern churches and on Salina where the town of Santa Marina is named for her.

Anthony, Antonio, Antonia, Antonella

Saint Anthony of Padua is widely venerated, but there is also Saint Anthony the Great from whom he took his name. For us, I think we can concentrate on Anthony of Padua as he is the one seen in statues on the islands. He lived in 13th century Lisbon where he was born. He loved the Franciscan rule that was new at the time. He was then a priest but received permission to become a Franciscan monk. He wanted to go to Morocco to preach to the Muslims, but ill health turned him back for a landing in Messina. He traveled on to Padua from there. He is remembered as a great orator, and as the saint of reconciled marriages. Also, here is another saint connected with lost articles, probably the more famous. His feast day is June 13th


There are so many Johns in the roll-call of saints that it is impossible to know for sure which one a child is named for unless one knows the devotion, interests and local worship patterns for a family.
There is Saint John the Divine, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint John of Patmos, Saint John of the bull, Saint John the list of thirty others. One that is often used in naming children is John the Baptist, but don't lose your head, these children are often named Giovanni Battista.
Saint John, the one who wrote Revelations is not a special favorite of mine....too mystical for me. I really like John the Baptist, and I choose to believe he is the one that our family members are named after. There are churches dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in several places in Sicily, the Amalfi coast and in Calabria. All are places our relatives came from. Amalfi merchants are well known for their devotion to Saint John and restored the church dedicated to him in Jerusalem during the Crusades period. His feast day is June 24th.

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