Last night, at Head House Books on Second Street in a historic neighborhood in Philadelphia, easy walking distance from the South Philly neighborhood where my grandparents settled as new immigrants, I had the great pleasure to tell a bit of their story, and mine. It was a fun and memorable evening, made all the better by friends, old and new, who came out to listen, as well as Catanoso and Foti relatives from Philly and New Jersey. Thank you to Debbie Rech at the bookstore for the invitation, promotions and gracious hosting.
Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’
I have a few book events coming up: on Thursday at 7 p.m., I’ll be speaking at Head House Books in Philadelphia, Pa. On Dec. 14, I’ll be signing books at the Barnes & Noble at Southpointe Mall in Durham, N.C., from 1-3 pm. And on Dec. 20, I’ll be signing books at the Barnes & Noble at Friendly Center in Greensboro, N.C., from 1-3 pm. Hope to see you there.
From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “It was exactly a month ago today that Paul Pickel, owner of a Vero Beach, Fla., stained-glass studio, learned that $100,000 of his artwork had been stolen in Philadelphia. An 8-by-12-foot mosaic of Italian saint Padre Pio and two stained-glass windows depicting the Ascension of Christ were stored in a van that was stolen from a motel parking lot near Philadelphia International Airport. Pickel, 65, feared that his meticulous work would have been for nothing and that his works would be lost or destroyed, possibly putting his studio in jeopardy.” The rest of the story is here.
The friendly folks at Head House Books in Philadelphia, Pa., sent out an email flyer yesterday regarding my upcoming talk at the store on Thursday, December 4, at 7 p.m. The event is free and RSVP’s are requested by calling the store at (215) 923-9525, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The flyer also links to this book review in The Main Line Times. The store location is illustrated here.
For those of you who plan ahead, I’m happy to say that I will be at Head House Books in Philadelphia on the evening of December 4, a Thursday, to talk about My Cousin the Saint. We will get started around 7 p.m. Please tell your friends in the Philly area!
Before the Tampa Bay area went nuts last night reveling in the success of the once-lowly Rays and their improbable journey to the World Series, Tampa Tribune religion writer Michelle Bearden offered a story in the Sunday paper about the power of saints in modern society. The story is here. Me and my cousin enter the story near the end.
For the record, I’m a Phillies fan, and have been since I was a Little Leaguer in Wildwood, NJ, going to the Vet with my pre-teen pals to see Steve Carlton pitch for a team that lost 100 games. If the Phillies win this series – their first since 1980 and second in franchise history — it won’t be a miracle. This team is really good!
Justin Cardinal Rigali, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, marks the anniversary of his fifth year in service to the city this week. The story is here. I wonder that if the Italian-American Rigali was named for an immigrant grandfather with the first name Giustino. I was.
Journalist David Robinson, who covers religion for the Main Line Times in Armore, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, writes a long and thoughtful review of My Cousin the Saint in the current issue. The review is here.:
“Catanoso weaves his story of My Cousin the Saint with threads from Padre Gaetano’s life amid the villages of southern Italy, and the American story of Carmelo Catanoso (the author’s grandfather and a cousin of the saint) who fled Italy in 1903 and never looked back. Equally compelling are the author’s confessions as he seeks to understand his God, church and the river of questions that dilute his faith.”
Frank Wilson, the former book editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s book review section, reviews My Cousin the Saint today in the Sunday paper. The review is here. I think he liked the book, and was really taken by Padre Gaetano Catanoso, the man who became a saint.
Excerpt: “The real miracle on display in this book is the life of Gaetano Catanoso. Here was a man unaffected by theological subtleties, spouting no mystical mumbo-jumbo, content to pray, celebrate Mass, and be unwaveringly good and kind. In short, a good priest … the soul of the book is Padre Gaetano. We all need to become better acquainted with him.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about “My Cousin the Saint” in today’s edition. Religion writer David O’Reilly, whom I met and interviewed with in the Inquirer newsroom on July 25, does an exemplary job. No surprise. He’s among the best religion writers in America.
So why did his immigrant grandparents never talk about the southern Italy they fled a century ago? Had they left some family secret in the impoverished mountain region of Calabria – a home to the Mafia?
They had, but never knew it.
And it was no dark secret at all, but luminous.
The clan they left behind in 1903 had spawned a holy man, the Rev. Gaetano Catanoso, whom the Roman Catholic Church would proclaim a saint in 2005.
And in the course of discovering his long-lost cousin – a parish priest born in 1879 who grew into what he calls an “ethereal, holy being, so virtuous that he is hailed as a miracle worker” – Justin Catanoso would discover his larger family, his Italian roots, and the faith he hardly knew.
“It was an experience that pulled me into the heart of the family,” Catanoso, now a 48-year-old North Carolina journalist, said during a recent visit to Philadelphia. He recounts his journey of discovery in a new book, My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family and Miracles.
Read the whole story here.