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San Pietro Avellana

St. Amico - The Patron Saint of San Pietro Avellana

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Saint Amico, who lived around 1100, is the patron saint of SPA.  His feast day is 3 Nov.

Read more about St. Amico in Chapter 2 of the Historical Notes and Anecdotes from San Pietro Avellana.

Read more about St. Amico on a web page built by Bob Morrison : http://www.amico.mysite.com . and a findagrave memorial also built by Bob.

In 1906, my great granduncle, arciprete Don Sabatino Frazzini, officiated over the opening of the Cappella di S. Amico nel Bosco in San Pietro Avellana. Don Sabatino also wrote the book, Vita di Santo Amico (Life of Saint Amico), in 1887.

To learn more about S. Amico's miraculous apparition to Antonio Mosca and his wife Maria Michelina diTella in Donaldsonville, LA, look at these web sites:

http://www.artsci.lsu.edu/phil/faculty/payne/index.htm
http://www.louisianafolklife.org/FOLKLIFEimagebase/FLImagesListing.asp?Page=188
http://www.sec.state.la.us/archives/02-99/CHURCHES.HTM

(added note: Antonio Mosca arrived in the US on the Chandernagor in 1887.)

Some details about his were passed on to me by Shirley Toney ( Silvrtop20aol.com  ), the great granddaughter of Antonio and Michelina, She wrote:

" I don't think I told you this,  but, it was my great grandfather, Anthony Musco/Mosca and his wife Maria Micolina DiTella who built the St. Amico Chapel in Donaldsonville. My family  still owns that property."

"The story I was told by my great grandfather is that one of his sons got very ill and was dying. He and my g. grandmother, both  strict Catholics, were praying for the boy to not die. when they truly believed he would die before morning. They prayed to all the Saints. As they were praying the image of St. Amico appeared to them. (Remember that my g. grandmother was born in San Pietro Avellano.) My g. grandfather promised, that if St. Amico would save his son's life, they would  build a chapel and honor St. Amico until they died. My uncle out lived both of his parents. My great grandparents kept their promise. Every year the Musco family would gather in the Chapel for a pray service to the patron St. Amico. Then everyone, young and old alike, would walk the approx. 2 1/2 miles into the  Ascension Catholic Church for the Church's blessings. The hardiest 4-8 people would lead the procession carrying the statue of St. Amico. I once helped  to carry that statue from Chapel to Church. It was no easy task."

"What started in 1912 as a promise made by a couple of frantic parents to the patron St. Amico grew and blossomed. By the 1950's and 60's, people came from all over,  many from other states, to pay homage and ask for blessings of St. Amico. Hundreds of people were making the trek from the chapel to the big church in  Donaldsonville. I have heard many stories of prayers being answered by the good St. Amico." 

I learned from Misty Musco that Shirley died on 20 May 2011.

 In Feb of 2006, Professor Rodger Payne and I traded these emails:

Dear Rodger,

I received your web site address from Bob Morrison.

Bob and I share ancestry from San Pietro Avellana. I've built a simple family web site at:
http://www.silogic.com/genealogy/frazzini.htm

My mother, Benilda Frazzini, was born in SPA in 1912. My wife and I visited there in 2004 and we visited many cousins including people who actually remembered my mother from their childhood.

Two of my ancestors (zii) have been Arcipreti - Giovanni Frazzini from 1862-1903 and Sabatino Frazzini from 1903-1921.

I saw your web site. I'm sure every descendent from SPA would be interested in your research into S'Amico.

I've only come across a few families who moved to Louisiana from SPA. There must be a larger presence if S'Amico is widely honored there. I'd like to learn about that.

If I can be of any help, please let me know.

Ciao.
Mark
Date:            Sat, 04 Feb 2006
From:            Rodger Payne
Subject:         S. Amico and SPA

Dear Mark,

I received your email about S. Amico and SPA.  Please forgive my delay in responding; things just have a way of getting very hectic for (thankfully!) short stretches of time, and some emails get buried under those that cry out for immediate resolution!

At any rate, I am very pleased to hear from you, and certainly know of your uncle Sabatino Frazzini!  As regards devotion to S. Amico in Louisiana, the procession was begun about 1912 by a farmer named Tony Musco.  Local legend says that he was an immigrant from SPA, although there seems to be no Muscos left there, and my contacts don't recall ever hearing of any ancestors.  Thus, I am suspicious that he may have actually been from a nearby village -- someone told me that there were Muscos (alt: Mosca) in Capracotta.  The story of the devotion here is that it didn't accompany Tony Musco when he immigrated (although apparently the family did have some devotion to S. Amico since they had a lithograph of him in their home), but rather was in honor of what the devotees believe was an apparition of the saint near Donaldsonville about 1906, when he healed Musco's young son.  I can send you a photocopy of the little pamphlet that was given out at the procession here that tells this charming tale. (Mark's note: look below for the full text of this pamphlet.)

There are a number of things that interest me as a scholar about this devotion, not the least of which is why such a devotion to an admittedly obscure saint seemed to have been supported for so long by the Italian community in Donaldsonville, despite the fact that so few, if any, of the immigrants -- including perhaps Tony Musco himself -- were even from SPA.  I have written a couple of articles suggesting some "academic" reasons for this, and I am trying (in between administrative duties!) to finish a book project on devotion to S. Amico -- I would be happy to send copies of the articles to you.

On the whole, the devotion to S. Amico here is, unfortunately, disappearing.  The procession ended about five years ago, and the remaining devotees have largely moved away from the area or are too old to continue to participate.  Part of the reason may be that there are no bonds of attachment to SPA (in fact, many of the devotees who whom I spoke when the procession was still being observed were Sicilian and thought that Amico was also).  Thus, whatever research I can complete will probably be the sum of the life of the devotion in Louisiana. There has been talk of closing up the little chapel Musco built and sending the items from it to SPA (a connection made by the Louisiana devotees through my two visits there).

If you run across any references to the Musco/Mosca family in your genealogical research, I would be very grateful for such.

Best wishes,
Rodger
--
Rodger M. Payne, Chair
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies  (Mark's note: this is an old address, see below)
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Rodger,

Thanks for the email.

It is interesting to hear about the Chapel and the history. I had never heard of it before just a few days ago even though I've been doing genealogical research about San Pietro Avellana for about 3 years.

You should have received an email from Shirley who is descendent from Antonio Mosca. Also, from Bob Morrison, who got a translation of "The Life of S.Amico" done. He sent me a copy as well.

I can only tell you a little more about Antonio Mosca.

Mosca is the correct Italian spelling. I found his 1892 marriage registration in the microfilmed records from SPA which are available through the LDS church:
  31 Jul 1892 Marriage
  Antonio Mosca, 22y, born in Carpineto della Nora (not SPA)
    f: Nicola
    m: Anna Luisa Fabrizio
  Michelina diTella, 18y
    f: Luciano
    m: Maria Palumbo

So you can see from that record, he was born in Carpineto della Nora which is in the province of Pescara. There probably were no other Mosca in SPA after his family emmigrated. But there are many diTella descendents.

(added note: Antonio Mosca arrived in the US on the Chandernagor in 1887.)

I've also found Ellis Island records for Antonio and his wife: 1.) Antonio Mosca, age 22 arriving 1893, going to Brooklyn, NY. 2.) Michelina diTella, age 23 arriving 1898 from SPA. They were going to her husband, Antonio, in Louisville (sic), LA. Traveled with son Nicola, age 5.

In the town in PA where I grew up, Aliquippa, there is still an annual celebration of S. Rocco. (http://www.sanrocco.org/). That celebration began in 1925 and continues strong today. There was no miracle involved here though, he was the patron saint of Patrica and many people from that town ended up in Aliquippa.

I would like to see anything that you can share about S. Amico and his chapel. I hope that Shirley can give you more insight into the family that started it all.

May I use your email on my web page so that others may learn about the Chapel?

Ciao.
Mark
Mark,

> You should have received an email from Shirley who is descendent from Antonio Mosca.
> Also, from Bob Morrison, who got a translation of "The Life of S.Amico" done. He sent me a copy as well.
 
Yes, I have heard from both, and received Bob's translation.  It looks much better than my "between the lines" annotated version.

> I can only tell you a little more about Antonio Mosca.
 
The information you sent is fascinating.  Thank you!  I checked my folder on Musco's family (primarily compiled from census records, etc.).  According to what I have, in 1920, Tony "Moska" was at that time 49 years old and had immigrated in 1895 to Ascension Parish (although I am unfamiliar with a place named Louisville, LA -- could this be Donaldsonville?).  His wife was indeed "Makinlina" (as the census taker spelled it), 46 or 47 years old.  Neither were citizens and neither could read or write in English (not sure about their Italian!) although both could speak English.   Their three children were all born in Louisiana: Josephine (age 7); Johnnie (age 4); and "Lucia" (Lucien; the boy who was purportedly healed by S. Amico) was 15 years old.

> I would like to see anything that you can share about S. Amico and his chapel.
> I hope that Shirley can give you more insight into the family that started it all.

I will pull some things together and drop them in the mail to you.

> May I use your email on my web page so that others may learn about the Chapel?

Of course!  I hope to get things updated there very soon.

Keep in touch!
Rodger

Rodger is now at the University of North Carolina - Asheville. His web page - click here rpayneunca.edu . Author of  "Image and Imagination in the Cult of St. Amico." In Saints and Their Cults in the Atlantic World. Edited by Margaret Cormack. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007.


A True Story of Saint Amico by Jennie Musco Salemi.

From Bob Morrison,  <rnamorrisonyahoo.com>:

"I will also send you a copy of a pamphlet titled: A True Story of Saint Amico, written by Jennie Musco. The Musco's description of St. Amico as a "dark man", is at first quite remarkable, but it reminds me of Our Blessed Mother's Apparition at Guadalupe, Mexico, where she appeared in the form of a Indian Maiden of dark complexion."

"A True Story of Saint Amico" by Jennie Musco Salemi.


  This is a true story. It happened in 1906 in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. My father, Anthony Tony Musco, passed away on March 19, 1960. I, Jennie Musco Salemi, am writing this story as my father would have told it.

  My son Lucien was 2 1/2 years old. He was sick for 19 days. The doctor treated him and the medicine wasn't helping him at all. One day my son saw a pretty man on the wall. He looked at his sister and exclaimed, "Jennie, Jennie, come see the pretty man. His mother looked up and asked him, "Who is it son?" He said, "A pretty man." So the next day he took a turn for the worse. My mother-in-law, trying to take my mind off my son for a while, asked me to go get some stable fertilizer from the plantation. I went in the yard and got the mule and wagon. On the river road about a half-mile from the house; I met a dark man on the way. The man asked me for a ride and I told him he could ride, but I wasn't going to Donaldsonville. The dark man said, "I know where you are going." I asked him "what do you do for a living?" and the man answered, "I am a doctor but I don't like to have it known." I said, "I have a baby at home sick. Will you please come home with me and see him." He said, "Yes." I wanted to go back with the man, but the dark stranger said, "No, you go on and get the stable fertilizer, I'll wait on the store porch for you." So I went and put a couple of shovelfuls of fertilizer in the wagon and it was loaded. So I then went and picked the man up.

  When I pulled in front of the house the man got off the wagon and went into the house without saying a word. My mother-in-law asked, "Mister, what do you want?" The stranger didn't answer. So she came to me and said, "This man walks into my house and acts like he owns this house. What does he want?" I answered, "Hush, he is a doctor," She then said, "The doctor couldn't do anything for him. What can he do?" She walked back into the house, turns to the dark stranger and said, "You see how sick the baby is," and he answered, "Yes, but at 12 o'clock exactly this baby will eat."

  My mother-in-law used to put bread and wine on the baby's stomach. She used to take it off before the doctor would get there, But she hadn't taken it off that day. So she said, "Mister, I have bread and wine on his stomach. Is that good?" He said, "Yes, that's good." He took the bread and wine in the handkerchief or cloth and fixed it like a cross. He asked my oldest son, Nick, to get a spade and go with him. He went to the side of the house by a white fig tree and made my son dig a hole and then he put the bread and wine in the hole. He told my son to get a spade of dirt and put in the hole and then said, "Boy, God will help you." He went to the water barge and was making penance, bowing his head and praying. My son got scared and went into the house and said to my wife, "Mama, come see what that man is doing." My wife looked outside and got scared. She walked outside and got a stick and told my son, "If he comes in the house and says anything to us, we're going to hit him." The dark stranger walked into the house, not saying a word. He unbuttoned his shirt and scratched all over. He didn't say anything, so we didn't do anything. He asked my wife, "Do you have any gunpowder." She said, "Yes, I have plenty." So my wife looked but couldn't find it. She looked at him and said, "Mister, I can't find it." He went to the space and got it himself. He then asked my wife for nine hills of parsley with roots. She told him she had plenty. He then asked for a pot and some salt and pepper. He had a small battle of medicine. He took the gun powder, parsley, salt and pepper and his medicine and he boiled it. When he finished, he asked my wife to hold the baby on his lap. He let the steam from the pot go on the boy's leg. After he finished, he put the boy to bed, turned to us and said, "I don't want anyone by the bed but me. I'll stay until he gets well." So my wife started to cry and said, "I'm sure that he is not going to stay with him." Both the man and baby went to sleep. The man with his head on the iron bed. My mother-in-law went to get a pillow for the man, feeling sorry for him. She couldn't say anything, so she put the pillow back. After a while the baby woke up. My wife called the man, "Mister, my baby is crying." The man didn't answer. The baby went back to sleep.

  My wife said to her mother, "It's eleven O'clock and we don't have anything cooked. It's too late to cook a chicken. Should we cook salt meat? The dark man might like that." She asked him if he liked salt meat with Irish potatoes and gravy. And he said, "Oh, that's good." They started to cook. As my mother-in-law's knife touched the potatoes, they were mysteriously peeled. As my wife touched the salt meat, it was cut. At 12 o'clock exactly the table was set, the meal fully cooked. As we sat at the table, the dark man and us, the sick boy looked up and said, "Mama, I want to eat, too." So my wife asked the dark man, "Should I give him some of this?" He had finished eating when a little boy named Angelo Frintano came. My mother-in-law said, "Angelo, go eat with Jennie." Jennie looked at Angelo and said, "My daddy brought the dark man for my brother." Angelo walked out of the house, ran to his mother, and said, "Mama, at Mr. Tony's they have a dark man." As he said that he became hoarse.

  Angelo's grandmother was holding him on her lap and then mama told Angelo's sister to run to Marie's and tell her that Angelo had taken very sick. As she walked into our house, she said, "Miss Marie, Angelo is very sick." My mother-in-law said, "Oh no. It can't be. He just left here and he was all right." So my mother-in-law went to Angelo's house. When she got there, she found out it was true. She turned to Angelo's mother and said, "My son-in-law brought a doctor for my grandchild. Call your husband and have him come and talk to the dark man." So she called her husband and said, "Randolph, come here. Go to Mr. Tony's and talk to the doctor that is there. See if he won't come and check Angelo." Randolph turned to his wife and said, "I don't want to go there. He'll steal everything Tony has tonight." She said, "Go anyway and get him."' He went to get him. When he got to Mr. Tony's he sat down and asked the man nothing. My mother-in-law told the dark man, "Mister, you remember Angelo - the boy that was here today -- he's very sick. The dark man said, "Yes, I know." I will go see the boy -- not for his father -- but for you and the boy's mother.

  Angelo's mother was worrying about her husband staying too long and went outside to see if she could see them. She didn't see anybody, but somebody tapped her on her shoulder and said, "Go in the house and get some whiskey and camphor, warm it, and put it on his neck." She did that, and within a few minutes the boy was playing. When the dark man got there, he asked Angelo's mother, "Did you rub camphor and whiskey on the boy's neck," and she said, "Yes." Angelo's father was still at my house. Even after the boy got well, he still said the dark man would steal everything I had, and I told him, "He could steal anything he wants, just so my boy gets well."

  The dark man told me he had slept at the colored preacher's house the night before. He also said he could cure any kind of animal. So I told him I had a crippled dog. The dog's hind legs were paralyzed. The dark, man said to grab the dog's crippled legs and turn him nine times one way and nine times the other way. He Said, "Now put the dog down." Miraculously, the dog ran and was cured.

  The dark man said he lived in St. James near New Orleans. The dark man then asked me for my razor because he wanted to shave. I had never loaned anyone my razor, but I gave it to him. After he finished shaving, I offered him some money. He said, "All I want is fifty cents, no more than that." Then my mother-in-law asked for his address. She said, "Maybe if someone else gets sick, we can call on you." He took out pencil and paper, wrote his address, and gave it to her. She saved the paper as if it was gold. No one could understand his writing. I went out in the yard. He told my wife he was going to see Angelo. My oldest son, Nick, was halfway up the lane, the dark stranger disappeared. Nick said, "Mama, I can't see him any more." My wife looked out and didn't see him any more.

  My wife then killed a chicken and cooked chicken and spaghetti. It was nine o'clock at night, and the dark man hadn't come back yet, so I went to Angelo's house to see if he was there. Angelo's mother said he hadn't been back any more.

  I then went to the colored preacher's house and asked him if the dark stranger was there, and he said, "Oh no, Mr. Tony, no one slept at my house last night, and I haven't seen anyone tonight."

  So then I went back to the store where I first picked him up and asked the man there if he had seen him and he said, "No."

  I then went home, ate supper and saved a big dish of supper for the dark man. But he never showed up.

  The next day my wife and mother-in-law said, "The dark man said he was going to stay until the baby got well." They kept saying it over and over and the baby was listening. The baby looked up and said, "Mama, what dark man are you talking about, a dark man didn't cure me." We all got excited and asked the boy. "Who did cure you?" The boy said take me and I'll show you. I had a little saint's picture of St. Amico from the old country. I used to burn a candle by it all the time. They had a bunch of other pictures with it. He didn't know the name of St. Amico. We showed him several pictures and he kept saying, "No." When we showed him the picture of St. Amico he said, "Yes," that's the one.

  We were shocked to think we had a saint in our house and we didn't treat him with the honor he deserved.

  This happened all in one day. Ever since then he has been well.

  We have been celebrating St. Amico's feast day the first Sunday after Easter since 1912. We have a colored band playing. We walk barefoot 2 1/2 miles to Ascension Church in Donaldsonville. We serve free sandwiches. Soft drinks are available. And also a big dance that night.


"Vita di Santo Amico"  (Life of Saint Amico)


From:   Robert n Alma Morrison <rnamorrisonyahoo.com>
Date:    Mon, 3 Nov 2008 06:18:31 GMT
Subject:    electronic file - Saint Amico in San Pietro Avellana

Mark,
A belated reply, but Professor Payne never got back to me with any comments, so, attached now is the electronic file for the English translation of the book: Saint Amico in San Pietro Avellana.

I have edited it for spelling errors (but kept alternate spellings), and corrected typos. I left all the 'Big words' so not to change Steve's translation. I would be honored if you would post it on your website. (I have posted it to my Saint Amico Website also).
Your amico,
Robert Morrison

This book Saint Amico in San Pietro Avellana, written in 1961, by Father Michele Messore, contains the original book Vita di Santo Amico by (my great-granduncle) Father Sabatino Frazzini. This translation is by Steven Cutts. You can read about S. Amico on Robert's web site or you download a PDF of the book by clicking here.


Chapel of Saint Amico in Donaldsonville, LA

Here are some photos that were originally forwared to me by Bob Morrison. I then contacted the photographer.

From:    rodney woods <tarwoodshotmail.com>
Subject:    RE: St Amico - Chapel
Date:    Wed, 18 May 2011 21:15:25 +0000

Mark you are welcome to use the photos. Although I  grew up  near the Chapel in Donaldsonville, I am learning  more of the builders of the Chapel  and  St.  Amico.

Rodney






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