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

Posts Tagged ‘Italians’

Now appearing in Harvey’s Kitchen

Monday, March 2nd, 2009


A few weeks ago, I was invited to visit Harvey’s Kitchen in the Historic Aycock Neighborhood in Greensboro. Visiting the cramped, working kitchen, which Harvey transforms rather simply and elegantly into a studio set, is becoming a must-do for artists of all kinds across the Triad, and increasingly, farther afield. We come and sit awhile to perform or tell a few stories. Then Harvey turns it into video magic. My wife was there in January, performing a couple of her songs with guitarist Scott Manring. That night, Harvey Robinson and his partner, Carolyn de Berry, learned about my cousin the saint. They invited me to visit the kitchen a few weeks later.

Betting on the American dream

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

An interesting story about an interesting new book — The Bookmaker by Michael J. Agovino. “The Bookmaker opens a window into the experiences of second and third generation Italian Americans who steadily became part of the fabric of New York City life.” The whole story is here.

New Video: Pentidattilo

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


I am thrilled to able to post a new video (with a few more to come!). This one gives you a glimpse of Pentidatillo, a hillside village above Melito di Porto Salvo at the very bottom of Italy. This short video opens with a view from Pentidattilo of Mount Etna, which lies across the Ioanian Sea in Sicily.

This village is where Padre Gaetano Catanoso was sent as a young priest to lead his first parish in 1904, a year after my grandfather emigrated to America. Pentidattilo was a rough and hopeless place at the time. The young priest faced enormous challenges, including Mafia threats inside the church. He served there for 17 years, before being called down to Reggio.

Pentidattilo has been abandond since the 1950s when there were fears that earthquakes would cause a rock slide and crush the homes. It never happened. The European Union is now working to restore some of the homes. A private effort is underway to restore the church. It’s an incredible place to visit.

This video was shot and produced my Michael Frierson, a friend and filmmaker at UNC-Greensboro.

A museum for Italian Americans

Monday, September 15th, 2008

News flash for the AP wire:

NEW YORK (Sept. 15) —A museum dedicated to Italian Americans has reopened where it belongs—in Little Italy. The Italian American Museum originally opened in 2001 in midtown Manhattan, but it has just completed a move to 155 Mulberry St. at the corner of Grand Street. The museum’s mission is to explore the cultural heritage of Italian Americans and their European roots.

Story here. Museum web site here.

Travel alert: the pleasures of Calabria

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

This is truly something you do not see every day, or hardly at all — a glowing story about travel in Italy not focused on Rome or Tuscany or Venice, but CALABRIA. Amazing. But that’s what today’s story in The Independent of London offers, without any equivocations or apologies. An excerpt:
Lungomare Regio Calabria
“While Tuscany can point to its Renaissance treasures, the Calabrians patiently explain the widespread evidence in their province of great and ancient civilisation. The Bronzi di Riace – full-size bronzes of Greek warriors found in the sea and on display in Reggio di Calabria, the regional capital – and the archaeological jewels of Locri Epizefiri, a walled Greco-Roman town – are held up as proof of Calabria’s status as the cradle of Italian civilisation. It is no coincidence that Calabria’s first indigenous tribe was called the Itali.

“Above all, Calabria, with its turquoise waters, hidden coves and ancient villages, is a place that rewards curiosity. Although their compatriots have long since discovered the region’s charms, it remains largely undiscovered by foreigners. The region, one of Italy’s poorest, is taking a new-found pride in the myriad treasures that have survived down the ages, cut off from the coach-party hordes by miles of twisting country roads.”

Read the whole story. The inset photo shows the coastline of Reggio along the Strait of Messina with Mount Etna looming beyond on the east coast of Sicily. Bella vista.

Sacred relics

Friday, July 18th, 2008


Relics are an important part of the Catholic faith, and an important part of the prayer life of true believers. In this video, shot in Calabria and North Carolina by my friend and filmmaker Michael Frierson, I talk about the relics relating to Padre Gaetano Catanoso. Several sacred relics from the saint were given to me as gifts from my Italian relatives — including one believed to have been involved in a healing miracle in Reggio Calabria

Start planning

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Once again, October will be declared National Italian American Heritage Month. No sense in waiting until the last minute to plan your celebrations! Details here.

Catholic Bookmarks

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of speaking with Frank Morock, the host of Catholic Bookmarks, a program broadcast on satellite radio and Relevant radio stations in the Midwest. Our 15-minute conversation about my book was just archived at the web site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Frank, whose grandparents are also from Calabria, had wonderful questions for me. It’s program No. 826 and you can easily listen to an MP3 recording. The link is here. I hope you enjoy it.