ITALIAN AMERICAN ALLIANCE SPONSORS CONFERENCE OF PROMINENT ITALIAN ORGANIZATIONS
RALLY SET FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 14TH AT 2 PM
AT CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS PARK
TO DEMAND RESTORATION AND RETURN OF THE
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS STATUE
100 ATLANTIC AVENUE
Boston’s North End
THIS RALLY IS IMPORTANT. PLEASE BE THERE !
Leaders of prominent Italian American organizations wasted no time to react via teleconference Wednesday evening to plan appropriate action following the cowardly vandalism and subsequent removal of the Christopher Columbus statue that graced the North End’s Columbus Park.
Representatives of the Sons and Daughters of Italy, UNICO, The Federation of Italian Organizations, the St. Joseph’s Society, the Pirandello Lyceum, and the Italian American ALLIANCE were unanimous in their agreement to hold a rally to demand that the statue be restored and returned to its rightful place of honor.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh pledged to keep the Columbus statue on Columbus Park and the rally will remind the Mayor of his pledge.
The General Chairman for the event, Sunday, June 14 at 3 pm at Columbus Park in the North End, will be James Di Stefano, President of the Italian American ALLIANCE.
The Conference represented the largest Italian American organizations in Massachusetts and in the following days, others are expected to participate.
THE MEMBERS OF THE ALLIANCE SHOULD DEFINITELY PLAN TO ATTEND
Editor’s Note: The following is taken from a lecture by noted anthropologist Carol Delaney, Ph.D. The series will provide Rally participants useful background.
Most of the sections here are presented in a few short pages so as to allow you to easily digest the valuable information she offers.This comes to you in 6 sections.
Part I A Starting Point and Part II The Voyage are longer than most because she sets the groundwork. Happy reading ! Carol Delaney is a magnificent woman and a great researcher.
PART I. A STARTING POINT
CAROL DELANEY, Ph.D.
As you know, many people are calling to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day –indeed some cities and towns have already done so.
I have no problem with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day but I am very much opposed to it as a replacement for Columbus Day. We need to learn more about Indigenous peoples, but people also need to know more about Columbus.
Most people, even professors, know very little about him. Before I began my research, I too, knew hardly anything except “that in 1492 he sailed across the ocean blue.” I never imagined I would write a book about him.
Here is how it began.
In the fall of 1999 I was teaching a class at Stanford called “Millennial Fever” in order to observe the apocalyptic frenzy that was gripping the United States over the turn of the millennium. We also explored the history of the religious underpinnings of apocalyptic millennial thought. In one of the readings I came across a tiny footnote about Columbus’s apocalyptic millennial beliefs.
I was stunned. I had never heard of this, nor had any of the historians at Stanford. I was intrigued since a lot of my academic work has focused on religion [critically].
I started to read some books about Columbus but quickly became dissatisfied because NONE of them mentioned his religious beliefs, certainly not his apocalyptic beliefs. Instead they seemed to treat him as if he were just like us and only his clothes and his ships were different.
And that is a problem.
I am an anthropologist and our purpose is to try to understand people in their cultural context because that influences how they think and how they act. People during Columbus’s time didn’t think of separate/different religions –there was only one true belief and way of life –the Christian way. Other beliefs and lifeways were simply false.
Anthropologists generally study living cultures [my own fieldwork, for example, was conducted in a Turkish village] but if “the past is another country” as the saying goes, it seemed reasonable that I could visit Columbus’s world. I began to read a lot about 14th and 15th century Europe to get a sense of the world into which he was born.
1. First, the universe was very small and the earth was at the center—the sun, the moon, and stars revolved around the earth.
2. The earth had only three parts: Europe, Africa, and Asia –thought to have been peopled by the 3 sons of Noah!
3. Jerusalem was at the center where the 3 parts met.
4. People believed that there were only 7 millennia to the Earth’s existence – one millennium for each day of creation and people thought the End was near. Columbus had twice figured out how many years were left.
5. Before the End of the world, Jerusalem had to be in Christian hands for that was where Christ would come in judgement. It was the duty of Christians to evangelize and try to convert non-Christians so they could be saved. It was an outrage that Jerusalem was held by Muslims.
6. Although a number of crusades had been launched to recapture it, none had succeeded. As a boy, Columbus witnessed a crusade launched from Genoa –perhaps that is where he first got the idea.
[BY THE WAY: Columbus makes clear in several places that he was born in Genoa. In his will, he left money in the bank in Genoa to care for the people in his lineage…”since from it I came, and in it I was born.”]
People thought the end was near because of several events: The Bubonic Plague took the lives of 25 to 50 million people, and there were still outbreaks of it. There was also a schism in the Catholic Church whereby there were two Popes – one in Avignon and one in Rome and the schism was not resolved until the 15th century.
But the capstone to all of these turbulent events was the conquest of Constantinople by Muslims in 1453. This was devastating especially to the Genoese because they had a large trading colony there.
Muslims were clearly in the ascendant. Now they blocked not only the overland pilgrimage rout to Jerusalem but also cut off the trade route to the riches of the East that had been established by Franciscans and especially Marco Polo. Columbus’s copy of Polo’s Travels is well annotated and is one of the nine books from the library that still exist.
Columbus had a large library, and he knew three languages – Genoese, Latin, and Castilian Spanish. Genoese was not a written language so Columbus’s writings are mostly in Castilian Spanish and a few in Latin. Yet I still hear people, including TV news people, claim that Columbus was illiterate!!
Marco Polo, as well as the Franciscans, believed that the Grand Khan of Cathay [what we think of as China] was interested in Christianity, for he had asked that friars be sent to instruct him and his subjects. Some, like Polo and then Columbus, began to think that perhaps the Grand Khan could be persuaded to launch a crusade from the East as the Europeans marched from the West to recapture Jerusalem!!
Because the overland route to the East was blocked, most thought the only alternative was to sail down the coast of Africa to reach the Indian Ocean. This was the route explored by the Portuguese. Columbus had sailed with them a number of times but he was already thinking of going West across the ocean because Marco Polo said the landmass of Asia was huge and thus the ocean separating it from Europe must be quite narrow.
While sailing to Iceland for the Portuguese Columbus had experienced eastward flowing currents. Later when he passed the Canary Islands he felt westward flowing ones and decided that would be the place to start a westward crossing. Columbus petitioned the Portuguese to sponsor the voyage but since they were making progress taking the route around Africa they were not interested.
Columbus did not give up: he sent his brother to England while he went to Spain. His wife had died and now Columbus had his young son Diego in tow; together they sailed to the Port of Palos de la Frontera, from where, 7 years later, the first voyage would depart. They arrived sometime in the summer of 1485 and climbed up to the Franciscan monastery of La Rabida. Columbus had always been partial to the Franciscans and his friends noted that he was a passionate man of ardent faith. For example, Bartholome de las Casas knew Columbus and said this about his faith:
“He observed the fasts of the church most faithfully, confessed
and made communion often, read the canonical offices, like a member of a religious order, hated blasphemy and swearing and was most devoted to Our Lady and St. Francis and was grateful to God for benefits received and was especially devoted to the idea that God should deem him worthy of aiding somewhat in recovering the Holy Sepulcher.”
Columbus and Diego were well received at La Rabida and lived there for several years while the monks worked on getting him an audience with Queen Isabella.
[I have visited La Rabida and the current monks are very proud of their connection to Columbus; they have preserved, relatively intact, several rooms where Columbus spent time.]
Editor’s Note: Readers interested in this series may purchase “Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem” by Carol Delaney at your local book store. If it’s sold out, have them order a copy for you from Free Press – a Division of Simon & Schuster.
Part 2 THE VOYAGE
by Carol Delaney, Ph.D.
Columbus met Isabella in May 1486. She was clearly taken with him. She, too, was partial to the Franciscans, and was also interested in the recovery of Jerusalem as her grandfather and uncle had made that pilgrimage. She was quick to agree with Columbus’s plan because the Pope had given to Portugal all the land along the coast of Africa [as well as the right to enslave any Muslims or pagans they encountered.] That decree is known as Romanus Pontifex.
Isabella submitted Columbus’s proposal to a committee for further study. It would be a long wait. During this time, Columbus met Beatriz de Harana. Though the daughter of peasants she was educated and could read and write –qualities that appealed to Columbus. They soon became a couple and in 1488 their son Ferdinand was born.
In 1490 the Commission rejected Columbus’s proposal. So did a second commission. Columbus had been waiting 6 years and thinking about his project for a decade. He decided to go to France and was already on the road when a confidant of the Queen rushed to find him and brought him back telling Isabella she was losing a great opportunity at little cost.
She signed the papers in April11492 and told the people of Palos to prepare ships for the voyage. As you know these were the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
Once underway Columbus began to keep a diary –very unusual at the time, since not all sailors could write, and even if they could, they jotted down only wind, direction, and speed. At the beginning of the diary he recapitulated his understanding of the voyage. He wrote that he hoped to meet the person who “is called the Grand Kahn which means in our Spanish language “King of Kings”. To see how the conversion to our Holy Faith might be undertaken because so many times he had asked for men learned in our Holy Faith in order that they might instruct him in it and how the Holy Father had never provided them; and thus so many people were lost, falling into idolatry and accepting false and harmful sects. And you commanded that I should NOT go to the East by way of land. But by the route to the West,….by which route we do not know for certain that anyone previously has passed.”
The purpose of the voyage was to set up a trading post to obtain gold and spices that would finance the crusade. There was absolutely no intention of enslaving or killing the people belonging to the greatest empire in the world.
Finally, on August 3, 1492 the small fleet slipped away from Palos into the unknown. Columbus was confident and began to think of himself as Christ-bearer, like his namesake Christopher, carrying the Christian faith across the waters. But the men were afraid they might run out of food before they reached land and may also run into monstrous races described by Pliny.
Their anxiety increased when the rudder of the Pinto came loose on their way to the Canaries. Then there was an eruption of a volcano on the nearby island of Tenerife – Not good omens. But finally, they set out on the unchartered ocean and sailed due West.
Late in September they got entangled in the Sargasso Sea and saw some birds so they thought they might be approaching land But the crew became anxious and demanded that if they did not find land within three days, they should turn around before they ran out of food. Amazingly, in the next couple of days there were more signs that they were getting close. Late at night on October 11 Rodrigo de Triana, on board the Pinta called out, Tierra –Land. They sat out the night in great anticipation.
Their vigil was rewarded. Early morning a veil of mist opened and Columbus and crew ”saw an island. ..full of green trees and abounding in springs with a large lagoon in the middle.” Columbus was relieved: he had crossed the ocean no one thought possible and done so in 33 days—a feat that few sailors in small boats have surpassed –and had instinctively chosen the route that such sailors continue t follow.
October 12 is the date that Columbus wrote in his Diary but –he was using the Julian calendar whereas we use the Gregorian which was not adopted until 1582. Between the two is a difference of 10 days.
So, actually our holiday commemorates a day when he was still at sea.
THE ITALIAN AMERICAN ALLIANCE
WHO WE ARE
DR. DOMENIC AMARA. AMTHONY D’AMBROSIO, SANDRA ARANGIO, DR. LORI AZZARO, MICHAEL BYRNES, MARJORIE CAHN, JEANNINE CAMARD, MICHAEL COLUMBA, ROBERT CONSALVO, RICHARD A. DE VITO,MARISA DI PIETRO, JAMES DI STEFANO, KATHY DI STEFANO, DOROTHY DONOFRIO, LINDA FOURAUX, MARTIN GAMRIELLA, CHARLES J. GANGI,FLORNCE GUIDARA, FRANK GUIDARA, ANN HILL, RON HILL, ANTHONY INFANTI, JAMES KEARNEY, MICHAEL LOMAZZO, DR. FRANCIS MAZZAGLIA, DR. STEPHEN MAIO, JAMES MARTORANO, ATTY. DIANE MODICA, FRANK PASCIUTO, JANES PINZINO, ANGELO ROSSI, JR., CAROL ROSSI, LINO RULLO, DR. DEAN SALUTI, DR. ANIELLO C. TROTTA, JR., RODOLFO VISCOMI, ROSS ZAGAMI
[AN INVITATION TO BECOME VOTING MEMBERS WILL BE ISSUED IN MAY AND JUNE. THE ELECTION FOR THE 2018-2020 SLATE WILL BE HELD IN NOVEMBER.]
President James Di Stefano
Chairman of the Board Dr. Francis Mazzaglia
Treasurer John De Pinto, CPA
Secretary Marisa Di Pietro
Vice President for Special Projects Florence Guidara
Vice President for Organizational Development Dr. Dean Saluti
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
2020-2022 2019- 2021 2018-2020
Marisa Di Pietro Dr, Domenic Anmara Marjorie Cahn
James Di Stefano Jeaninne Camarda John De Pinto Denise Furnari James Kearney Dr. Dean Saluti
Florence Guidara Frank Pasciuto Antonio Sestito
Dr. Francis Mazzaglia Ross Zagami
Atty. Aldo Cipriani
Richard DeVito Sr.
Stephen Di Angelis
Kathy Di Stefano
Rep. Paul Donato
Atty Ye Huang
Dr. Anthony Lorri
Atty Cynthia Pasciuto
SOSTENITORI (Advocates/Recruiters) Joseph Barbieri
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro
Ray Di Fiore
CAMPAIGN EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
Wayland, Waltham, and Weston—Virginia Gardner
Arlington – Ross Zagami
Framingham – Joseph Barbieri/ Frank Mazzaglia
Marblehead – Jeaninne Camarda
Marlboro – Dan Caruso
Newton – Virginia Gardner
Salem – Jeannine Camarda
Wellesley – Frank Mazzaglia
Winthrop – Enzo Amara
Massachusetts – Frank Mazzaglia
AMICI – Executive Producer Ross Zagami Chair Antonio Sestito
ASIAN LIAISON- Atty. Ye Huang
COLUMBUS DAY PARADE LIASON – James Tierney
EDUCATION: Chair Dr. Dom Amara
CAMPAIGNS – Chair James Di Stefano and Frank Mazzaglia
COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Dr. Frank Mazzaglia
LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: James Di Stefano and Frank Mazzaglia
LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS – Rep. Paul Donato