90th Festa di San Gennaro, Little Italy 2016

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Where the holy things are

In his Vestiges of Ancient Manners and Customs, Discoverable in Modern Italy and Sicily (1823), Rev. John James Blunt describes several locations where the Lares, or Roman domestic gods, were commonly positioned and where contemporary Italians and Sicilians often keep images of saints. These are:

  1. “…in the public streets, particularly in situations where several ways met, and where the conflux of the populace was consequently greater. These were called Viales or Compitales…” (21)
  2. “…to guard the entrances of houses…” (24)
  3. “…for them a corner was reserved in their principle living rooms…” (25)
  4. “…guarding the chamber and bed from the influence of evil spirits by sight.” (26)
  5. “…the protection of shipping.” (30)
  6. “…for charms…” (40), particularly as pendants around the neck

Vestiges of ancient manners and customs (1832)

Vestiges of ancient manners and customs, discoverable in modern Italy and Sicily (1832) by the Rev. John James Blunt is a compilation of Rev. Blunt’s observations on the culture of the Mezzogiorno region compared with texts describing that of antiquity. While Rev. Blunt, an Englishman, tends toward a tone at once condescending and titillated, many of his observations are worth reading.

Chapters:

I. Introductory Remarks
II. On Saints
III. On the Virgin
IV. On the Festival of S. Agatha at Catania
V. On the Churches of Italy and Sicily
VI. On the Religious Services and Ceremonies of the Italians and Sicilians
VII. On the mendicant Monks
VIII. On sacred Dramas
IX. On the Dramatic Nature of the Ceremonies of the Church of Italy
X. On Charms
XI. On the Burial of the Dead
XII. On the Agriculture of Italy
XIII. On the Towns, Houses, Utensils, &c. Of the Italians and Sicilians
XIV. On the Ordinary Habits, Food, and Dress, of the Italians and Sicilians
XV. Miscellaneous Coincidences of Character between the ancient and modern Italians

It is available through the grace of archive.org for reading and download here.