The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

San Genarro Festival Celebrates Heritage

St. John’s held a San Gennaro festival on the Great Lawn Oct. 3, to celebrate the beginning of Italian Heritage Month.

The event was hosted by the Italian Culture Society and Multicultural Affairs. The San Gennaro feast is a traditional celebration in the Italian culture, commemorating the feast day of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples. The feast on the Great Lawn offered a smaller scale version of the feast that is held every year in Little Italy.

Natalie Maio, associate director of Leadership Development of the University, said the purpose of the event was to “celebrate the Italian culture and for everybody to have a good, fun social time.”

Students got a chance to sample some authentic Italian foods including cannolis, zeppolis, sausage and peppers. Lev Gurevich, a junior, said, “It’s always interesting to see what other cultures have, especially when it comes to food,” adding that he was proud that St. John’s had such a diverse campus.

Janie Grisanti, a member of the Student Engagement office, also praised the fact that the University is a host to such a diverse group of students. Grisanti is herself Italian and called the feast “a celebration,” and said she “enjoys the fact that everyone is celebrating,” while handing out pastries to a long line of students.

Graduate student Helayna Herschkorn is half Italian and said she has been to Italy herself. “I don’t think it’s possible to fully represent the Italian culture,” she said about the festival. “But I think St. John’s does a really amazing job with the resources they have.”

Glenn Fasullo, an alumnus of the University, was working to prepare sausage and peppers, an authentic Italian meal, for students. He wanted to offer a “basic authentic menu” in order for students to get a taste of Italy. “We basically try to duplicate what
they do back in Italy which is to make sure everything is freshly made,” he said. “Also it’s all run by the family.”

Italian Heritage Month lasts all the way through October, with many events taking place on and off campus. Throughout the month there will be Italian films screened on campus, trips to Little Italy and a cultural dinner.
St. John’s will also have their own float for the Columbus Day Parade.

The San Gennaro festival celebrated its 85th anniversary this year in Little Italy, New York. The not-for-profit group Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. (Children of San Gennaro), has hosted the event since 1996. “The delicious food, the free musical entertainment that reflects Italian-American culture and heritage are all there,” says Joseph Mattone, the president of Figli di San Gennaro .

New York’s festival is one of the biggest celebrations in the world, attracting one million people each year. Neighborhood and chain restaurants serve authentic Italian meals and the world famous cannoli eating competition is held.

The city’s celebration ran from Sept. 15 through Sept. 25. The official Web site for the festival refers to it as, “New York City’s biggest and most famous
street parties.”

A series of various events were held from music performances to eating contests.

The central event of the festival was held on Sept. 19, the feast day of San Gennaro, at Most Precious Blood Church. Following the mass the statue of San Gennaro is carried through the streets of Little Italy.

San Gennaro, also known as Saint Janarius, was a bishop of Naples during the third century. He is honored in both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Janarius preached during the rule of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who ordered the persecution of Christians. The bishop helped to hide those who were persecuted, but was eventually caught and sentenced to death. Many people theorize on his execution, although the popular opinion is that he was beheaded.

San Gennaro became a martyr for the Christian faith, and today his blood is kept in a vial in Naples, Italy. According to legend when the vial is placed near his head it starts to bubble, as if it were fresh.

The festival has received an apostolic blessing from both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

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