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         News and Events - December 2014


President’s Annual Letter

 After eight years of enjoying being a part of our “little” organization it struck me that we aren’t so little any longer. With over 470 members worldwide we are a much different organization than when we started. Events during the past year brought the realization we have a larger role to play.

Our Society has accomplished much in preserving the history, culture and traditions of Craco here in North America since 2007 including recent finds of material (see story pg. 3). Although our ancestors would be proud of our efforts they would expect no less and also urge us to do more.

Our Reunion this year centered on the “Lost Neighborhood of New York” which is a unique piece of historic research worthy of greater recognition and more exposure than we have done so far. We will look at ways to improve how we share information like this by trying to improve our outreach.

Looking forward, we will pursue our efforts to preserve Cracotan culture and history. We have been chronicling the history of the Crachesi in North America, filling in missing elements of our common story and making them available. We will continue that and seek more information.

The 113th feast of San Vincenzo Martire in New York City is an example of the Society’s achievements in maintaining Cracotan traditions in North America. It is a testament to the support of the members but in the upcoming year continuing that tradition will be challenging.

Although the home of the historic statue and relic of San Vincenzo in New York City will be closing, reflection on the life of San Vincenzo and the Crachesi people tells us this is nothing new.

San Vincenzo’s journeys started in Egypt and his travels brought him to Italy before marching into the Alps to meet his fate. Then he was brought to Rome before coming to Craco in 1792. In 1901 a relic of his was taken from Craco to New York City where it resided until 1957 when it had to move to St. Joseph’s Church. His movements continued even in Craco where his relic was forced to relocate from a 200 year old home to a new place of rest after the Frana.

His devotees from Craco also shared these travails. After 1500 years on their hilltop town they were forced to leave for new homes at the turn of the 20th century and then again in midcentury after the Frana.

We are a resourceful people who have always deflected setbacks and turned them into opportunities. This characteristic is still with us and we will continue to move forward.

Our Board of Directors’ meetings over the past month focused on planning and taking actions we believe important for us.

The recent events have focused us on the significant responsibility we have of preserving and maintaining unique and irreplaceable historic cultural Cracotan artifacts.

We are acting on plans to make the Society stronger. These include bringing in new Directors, increasing reserve funds for preservation and seeking ways to collaborate with other organizations that will help us achieve our mission.

However, there is no doubt that we will have to rely on you for support more than ever before. We anticipate extraordinary expenses to care for and preserve the historic relics we are responsible for protecting. We have already begun the process for preserving the 114 year old banner of the Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco and are awaiting more information about St. Joseph’s Church merger plans before acting on the statue there.

Since our founding we have been fortunate to have dedicated members who entrusted unique and historic materials, photographs, and items for us to protect, preserve, and share with the world through the internet. With such reliance on the worldwide web we will be looking at ways we can improve our footprint on it and use it more effectively to reach more people with a connection to us.

With the recent discovery of historic material we feel it is important to expand our efforts to access archived records and materials here and in Italy. Details about these efforts will unfold in the upcoming months

Reflecting on our Society’s future needs we ask you to please continue your support making sure all your family members and Crachese friends are aware of the Society. Also, please continue to participate and support Society events so our relationships and knowledge of each other keep expanding.

Next year represents new challenges but also wondrous opportunities for the Society as we continue our efforts to learn more about our rich past.

On behalf of the Board of Directors I want to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas season and prosperous and joy filled New Year.

 Joseph D. Rinaldi

President, The Craco Society


New Society Director

 The Board of Directors announced the election of Stephen S. LaRocca, Esq. to the Society’s Board.

Stephen brings much to the Society with his professional background, experience with Italian cultural groups, and local knowledge of Lower New York.

Stephen is widely known in New York City’s Italian American community and highly respected. He has been an outspoken advocate for preserving Italian American traditions and culture.

Although most often associated with his efforts as president of the San Rocco Society of Potenza, Stephen has also been active in educational panels, events and the subject of documentaries by the Queens College John D. Calandra Institute. He is also a regular participant in many Italian American society events throughout New York.

Joseph D. Rinaldi, president of The Craco Society says of LaRocca’s appointment, “Stephen brings great strength to our Board both professionally and emotionally at a time that is important to our organization. His energetic fervor, experience, and knowledge will help direct us as we grow from a small cultural society to a purpose driven organization that makes a difference at a time when traditions, cultural identity and historic preservation seem threatened by the demands of our everyday lives. We welcome his participation and wise input.


Rare Finds for Year’s End

 The Society’s mission to preserve the history, culture and traditions of Craco and its people in North America is ongoing. With thousands of years of history there are an enormous amount of records, materials, images and stories that need to be found and preserved.

One document we have been seeking, “Breve Storia del Comune di Craco e del suo Protettore S. Vincenzo Martire coll’aggiunta della Novena E Responsorio” a rare 1933 pamphlet with a history of the town and San Vincenzo was recently given to the Society.

Joseph Rinaldi, Society Vicepresident and his family visited Craco in October. Pasquale Ragone surprised Joe with a photocopy of the original document that was in the possession of Rita Santoro in Craco Peschiera.

This 39 page pamphlet was compiled and published by Msgr. Andrea Mastronardi. It served as the basis for the history of the town and San Vincenzo for several subsequent authors.

The addition of this rare item to the Society’s holdings completes all of the 20th century published material we are aware of about Craco and San Vincenzo.

The copy provided to us was digitized to preserve it and make it usable. The text will be translated and inserted into a revised book which tells the sory of San Vincenzo and The Crachese people in North America. This updated version will include the new material and information uncovered since the first edition.

These photographs are newly discovered embroidery on the reverse side of the 114 year old banner of the Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco uncovered during a conservation assessment.

The crest is the Lesser Coat of Arms of the House of Savoy , the rulers of Italy in 1900. The embroiderer took liberties by omitting the Latin text surrounding it and inserted wheat sheaves in the angel’s hand (inset left) in the Annunciation scene suggesting whoever sewed it had a Craco connection.  

We thank Fil Francavilla for this photograph of the tabernacle in the Church of San Nicola in Craco Vecchio.

This important find is the only photograph we are aware of showing the inside of the church before it was abandoned. This was the church everyone in Craco would have used before the Frana.

The Church of San Nicola Vescovo (Chiesa Madre) was erected in three different stages: the main section in the thirteenth century, an additional section in the sixteenth century, and in the eighteenth century the dome and some additional windows were added. The interior was restored in the 1800s and decorated with paintings of the Neapolitan school. It contained a mixture of styles: a bit Romanesque with a facade that does not have a cornice and some classic Byzantine domes that suggests a presence of the Greek Empire in the area. It was restored late in the eighteenth century, just after the unification of Italy, and again in 1903. The church maintained chapels with attached tombs, private property, and brotherhoods until it was closed when the townspeople shifted to Peschiera.

We are attempting to learn what happened to the tabernacle as it does not appear to be in the new church at Craco Peschiera.

 The Madonna della Stella statue in Craco, which dates to the early 17th century, is shown above. In the 1960s the Infant, golden crown and adornments were stolen. Although the stolen items were replaced, culture and history are lost each time original items are damaged or destroyed. This image is an important part of maintaining the knowledge of our past.

Photo courtesy of Fil Francavilla.




San Vincenzo Statues

 Bring San Vincenzo to your home for the Holidays. Consider enhancing your precepio by adding him to the scene, or just display him for your visitors to see. They make a meaningful gift that conveys our heritage to family members.

With each purchase of this beautifully hand painted 7 inch figurine of San Vincenzo, the proceeds will go directly to the Fund which is reserved for the future to preserve and maintain our Society’s relics. We are anticipating increased expenses to deal with the relocation of them.

San Vincenzo statues can be purchased for $25US which includes shipping. You can order them by emailing the Society at: memberservices@thecracosociety.org

Credit card or electronic payments can be made to us via PayPal (www.paypal.com) at:





The Craco Society extents best wishes to all for a





Click here to view A Year in Craco.  Events in Craco for every month are listed.  Thank you to Joe Rinaldi in Canada for his contribution to this page.

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