Growing up as a Roman Catholic, we have always been taught the importance of All Saint’s Day, a Catholic holiday honouring all Saints (known or unknown), which is celebrated on November 1st. In Italy, it is called Ognissanti and is considered a national holiday.
Saints are a very sacred for Italians. Every city, town, and comune has a Patron Saint (or protector) that is worshipped and celebrated. The Patron Saint for Carpanzano is Madonna Della Grazie (Our Lady of Graces). Her feast day is celebrated every year on February 12. Calabria, the region in which Carpanzano is located, also has a Patron Saint – San Francesco di Paola (St. Francis of Paola). His feast day is celebrated each year on April 2nd.
Many Italian names are also derived from Saints. It is not uncommon to receive congratulations on your onomastico (or name-day), which is sometimes held in higher regard than your actual birthday! From what I have been able to gather from looking up my own name (which comes from my bisnonna or great grandmother) my onomastico is celebrated on October 17 together with St. Luigia, a Carmelite nun who was martyred in 1794 in Compiégne during the French Revolution. My name is not Luigia but it is a diminutive of it so I guess it’s close enough.
There are many times we as Italians look to the Saints to offer us guidance. For example, we pray to St. Anthony when something is lost. There were many times when I couldn’t find something and would say, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony Please come down Something is lost And can’t be found”. I have a key chain attached to my car keys of St Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. The list goes on and on.
So today, on November 1st, I would like to say Thank You to all the Saints out there and wish a Buon Onomastico to all those who may not have been named after a Saint because today is considered your name-day, so have a good one.