Sunday, July 25, 2010

St. Patricia (? to c.665)

I was picking flowers this morning in the backyard of the home I rent for the summer and discovered a pathway which lead to a hidden raspberry grove. The sun-ripened fruit was everywhere, so I ran back into the house and grabbed a huge plastic container which I filled in less than 20 minutes.
I didn't mind being scratched by the prickly leaves or having the scorching sun beat down on me. It was like finding treasure: sweet, delicious jewels. And I was reminded of my childhood being four-years-old in my great-grandmother's garden.
Her name was Crescenza (Clara for short) and she had the most remarkable fruit trees that grew in North Providence soil. It was hardly the climate that would produce plump Italian plums and juicy peaches, but my great-grandmother knew how to do it.
One day when we on our way to her house, I asked my mother, if the reason that I didn't always understand what my great-grandmother was saying was because she was old.
My mother explained to me that she was speaking in Italian. She was born in Castelpizzuto, Abruzzo, Italy in 1885. My great-grandfather, Vincenzo, came to the United States first, then my great-grandmother followed with their four children including my grandfather, Anthony.
They left from Naples and the story goes that a man stole her handbag and she chased him down the street and grabbed it back before getting on the ship.
We visited her every week and when we got in the car to go home my mother would cry and say that it might be the last time we'd see her. This went on for years.
My great-grandmother lived to be 89-years-old.
When she couldn't go to church any more, she'd watch Mass on television.
I asked my parents if I could watch it on television, too, and they told me "no," that it wouldn't count (whatever that meant).
I was told that when my great-grandmother was young, long before beauty products were easy to come by, she created her own eye makeup and rouge with flowers. Her skin, which she washed with Pond's cold cream, was flawless. And she even colored her hair well into her eighties.
And she was funny, too. She was very religious, but also believed in spirits and she'd say that my great-grandfather, Vincenzo, kept her up all night. But, Vincenzo died in 1944. I guess she felt he was in the house opening doors or cupboards and walking around.
When she died on Feb. 12, 1974, my dad picked me up from school that day and said that my mother was very sad and that I had to be quiet when I got home.
I remember like it was only yesterday. She was strong and determined, and if it weren't for her, my grandfather may never have come to this country.
St. Patricia (St. Patrizia) was shipwrecked on the very shores that my great-grandmother left Naples from. She was born in Constantinople of noble birth. When her parents arranged for her marriage, St. Patricia took off to Rome and became a nun.
Upon her father's death, she returned to Constantinople. Then, she set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. St. Patricia ended up shipwrecked on the coast of Naples and lived in a hermitage on the island Castel dell'Ovo.
She died a virgin and martyr c.665. Her relics are in gold, jeweled urn in San Gregorio Armeno Monastery in Naples. It is said that every Tuesday morning and on her feast day, Aug. 25, a vial of her blood liquefies.
St. Patricia is a patron saint of Naples.

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