MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Posts Tagged ‘Gaetano Catanoso’

Heroic virtue

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

The tenor of the news surrounding the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification in the coming hours has been tilted slightly negatively. Isn’t this process being rushed? Didn’t he fail to confront the pedophile priests in his flock? Wasn’t he dismissive of modernizing the role of women in the church?

One could argue yes, to some degree, in regard to those criticisms. But the conflict-spin on this story misses the larger point — the whole life of John Paul II, a life that can be far more effectively be argued as having been heroically virtuous. That’s the key in this whole march to sainthood. Forget the miracles. That’s an ethereal sideshow. Whether or not you believe in God or Heaven or even the Catholic Church, one simply should not overlook the extraordinary life lived by this pope — beginning with his resistance to Nazism as a young adult right up to the way he dignified old age by living so visibly with Parkinson’s disease. John Paul was, emphatically, one of the most important historical figures of the past century. Believe what you want about this beatification and the motives behind it, but this pope has earned the right to his church’s greatest recognition.

By the way, nearly 17 years ago, on May 4, 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified my favorite saint — Padre Gaetano Catanoso, cousin of my grandfather, and thus, my cousin as well.

US Catholics celebrate, debate the legacy of Pope John Paul II

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Tom Breen, a reporter with the Associated Press, does a great job with this national story on the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II. I was lucky enough to be one of his sources.

ExcerptJohn Paul II was himself an enthusiastic promoter of sainthood and beatification. He streamlined the process to make canonization move faster, celebrated canonizations all over the world and named more saints than all the popes in the previous 400 years combined.

“He understood that there’s nothing like a canonization to fire up the faithful,“ said Justin Catanoso, a North Carolina journalist and author of “My Cousin the Saint,“ about his relative Gaetano Catanoso, who was beatified and named a saint by John Paul II. “It’s just a gorgeous ritual.“

Seize the day

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Now that My Cousin the Saint has been out a couple of years, calls for media interviews stopped about a year ago. But I had a delightful one this morning on Sirius XM Satellite Radio with Gus Lloyd, who hosts the drive-time program Seize the Day on the Catholic Radio Network.

Gus was prepared with excellent questions and lots of enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to talk with him and whomever was listening earlier today. Thanks Gus, and thanks to Emily, your producer, too.

Piero Catanoso, 1941-2006

Friday, June 25th, 2010

So many things about this time of year that remind me of the amazing and memorable month I spent in Italy exactly four years ago in doing research for my book. This day particular day, June 25, was both joyful and tragic. My day started with my cousin Giovanna, who drove me the 25 miles from Reggio Calabria to the hillside village of Pentidattilo, where Padre Gaetano had his first church and parish. We spent a few hours that morning wandering through the abandoned village. It was spectacular. On the drive home, however, I learned that Piero Catanso, the family patriarch and  legend of the legal community in Reggio, had died suddenly that morning of a heart attach at age 65. Late that afternoon, my interpreter, Germaine, took to me Piero’s niece’s apartment, where the viewing took place just a few hours after Piero had died at the hospital.

My emotions that day were so conflicted and confused. I wondered if in doing the research for my book if I had actually encountered more than I was prepared to handle, whether I really was a part of this Italian family, whether it was necessary for me to return home to America a week early and put this entire book project on hold. But while my spiritual faith was always up for grabs, my faith in my Italian relatives held strong. The week I spent in Reggio after Piero’s death gave me incomparable insight into what it means to be a Catanoso in Italy, what it means to be part of such a large and loving family, and not incidentally, what it means to be related to a saint. A real saint, as in St. Gaetano Catanoso. I will always be profoundly grateful for that.

I know Piero’s wonderful wife Adriana and his grown children, Claudia, Allesandra and Natale, miss him as much today as they did the day he died four years ago today. The fact is, I miss him, too. And all of them as well.

February 14, 1879

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

St. Valentine’s Day, yes. But also the birthday of a saint far more appealing to me — Gaetano Catanoso.

Happy birthday, cuz.

Now in paperback

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

My Cousin the Saint
Released today, by Harper Perennial. Available here. Take a look inside here.

Making a saint

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


Talk of JPII’s beatification is in the air. JPII helped Saint Gaetano get there. Here’s how. Filmed in Reggio and Rome by Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensboro.

Happy birthday, Gaetano

Saturday, February 14th, 2009


Today is best remembered as romantic holiday named for St. Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived a few hundred years after Christ and about whom very little is known (except that he died on Feb. 14). I prefer to remember this as the birthday of a saint — St. Gaetano Catanoso, born Feb. 14, 1879 in the village of Chorio in southern Italy. Happy birthday, Gaetano. (The video here was shot in Calabria last March by Michael Frierson, a film professor at UNC-Greensboro)

Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The day is named for a saint, but here’s some good advice just the same on this romantic holiday.

Actually,  the saint I remember fondly on February 14 is St. Gaetano Catanoso, my cousin, born on that day in 1879 in the village of Chorio in the region of Calabria, Italy.

The Saint’s Room

Thursday, January 8th, 2009


Video by Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensboro. Shot on location in Reggio Calabria.