Stroke / Andrew Avellino, 1521–1608,
Feast Day: November 10

An ecclesiastical lawyer, Andrew left the law and devoted himself to the priesthood when he caught himself lying during a trial. He was assigned to close a convent in Naples that had become a brothel. When he succeeded, the local men threatened his life. He traveled through Italy reforming other religious houses. He had an attack of apoplexy and died while saying mass.

Other patronages: Naples, Sicily

Invoked: against sudden death

Novenas for June

paul               SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE          

 First Century

             Saint Paul offers the greatest example of a life totally transformed in an instant by the intercession of divine grace. Once a zealous prosecutor devoted to hunting down and imprisoning Christians, his conversion was so extreme that it is commemorated by its own feast day, January 25.  Bitten by snakes, stoned by mobs, tortured and shipwrecked, Saint Paul was left for dead many times. He is known as the Great Apostle because of his unstoppable energy and the success of his missionary journeys. Told to preach to the heathen nations and the non-Jews, he is known as the doctor of the gentiles because he traveled throughout Greece and Asia Minor converting thousands. He is invoked for strength, patience and faith. His numerous writings and long sojourns make him the patron saint of journalists and public relations.

             Born a Roman citizen at Tarsus in Cilica, his given name was Saul. His father, a devout man, sent him to study under the famous rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem. As a young man Paul was a model Pharisee, the most extreme of all the Jewish sects, and zealous in his pursuit and persecution of Christians. He firmly believed that the only way to preserve Jewish law was to wipe the Christians off the face of the earth. He was present at the stoning death of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. Ten months after Christ was crucified, Paul was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians when he was blinded by light and fell from his horse. While on the ground a voice asked him, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” When Paul replied, “Who art thou Lord?”  The voice answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Paul was then told to continue to Damascus to await instructions. Paul spent the next three days unable to see or eat. It was during this time that he says he learned the Gospel. The entire teachings were infused in him. When he regained his vision on the fourth day,  he was baptized and changed his name from Saul, the name of a great king, to Paul, which means small as a sign of humility.

             Because of his reputation as a persecutor, Paul was at first mistrusted by the original apostles. After three years in Damascus,  his former allies in the synagogue were so incensed with his new preachings that he had to be lowered over the city walls in a basket in the dark of night to escape death.  When he returned to Jerusalem 12 years later he was arrested for creating chronic havoc and, because of his Roman citizenship, he was deported to Rome for a trial.  He survived shipwreck off Malta and was released in Rome. He then traveled to Spain and Ephesus and was arrested once again for his revolutionary preachings. He was brought back to Rome and beheaded in AD 67 in a place called Tre Fontane, Three Fountains, so named because it was said that Saint Paul’s head bounced three times when it was cut off and in each place it bounced, a fountain sprang from the earth. His body is buried in the basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

 Feast Day: June 29, shared with Saint Peter

 Patronage: Evangelists,  Malta, Journalists, Public Relations

Invoked against: Snakebite

     Novena to Saint Paul

   O holy apostle who, with your teachings and with your charity, taught the entire world, look kindly upon us, your children and disciples.

 We expect everything from your prayers to the divine master and to Mary, queen of the apostles. Grant, O doctor of the gentiles, that we may live by faith, save ourselves by hope, and that charity alone reign in us. Obtain for us, O vessel of election, will correspondence to divine grace, so that it may always remain fruitful in us. Grant that we may ever better know you, love you and imitate you, that we may be living members of the Church, the mystical body of Jesus Christ. Raise up many and holy apostles. May the warm breath of true charity permeate the entire world. Grant that all may know and glorify God and the divine master, way and truth and life. Obtain for me the special favors I am asking during this novena. (Your request here).

Lord Jesus, you know we have no faith in our own powers; in your mercy grant that we may be defended against all adversity, through the powerful intercession of Saint Paul, our teacher and father.

Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Dining with the Saints

The Feast of San Domenico

st domenico

First Thursday in May, Cocullo, Abruzzo, Italy

The town of Cocullo, in Abruzzo, Italy, is noted for a religious feast in honor of Saint Dominic who drove snakes out of their village. Sweet, wreath-like breads shaped like snakes biting their own tails are made in his honor on his feast day. There is also an actual snake festival where residents of Cocullo search the woods for snakes, which are then wrapped around the necks of specially trained men called serpari (snakemen) who stroll around the festival grounds holding out the snakes for people to pet. The snakes are later let loose to return back to the woods.

This lemony spring lamb stew is one of the dishes often cooked up as part of the San Domenico Feast day offerings.

Agnello Brodettato

This dish is adapted from a recipe by Anne Bianchi, from her book Italian Festival Food.

Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup pancetta, cut into small cubes
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
½ cup of all-purpose flour
A generous pinch of ground nutmeg
A smaller pinch of ground cinnamon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 spring onion, cut into small dice, using some of the tender green stalk
2 young spring garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup dry Marsala
1 cup light meat broth or chicken broth
1 egg yolk
The grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
A handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, stemmed

In a large casserole fitted with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until it’s crisp. Coat the lamb pieces in flour, shaking off excess. Add them to the casserole and brown them all over, seasoning with the nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper.

Add the onion and the garlic to the casserole and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Add the broth. The liquid should almost cover the meat (if not, add more broth or a little water). Bring the liquid to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the casserole, and simmer, until the lamb is tender, about 2 hours.

Remove the lamb from the casserole and place it in a large, shallow serving bowl. Cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Skim all the fat from the surface of the sauce. Whisk the egg yolk and lemon juice together in a small bowl and pour it into the casserole, whisking well over a very low heat just until the sauce gets creamy. Pull the casserole off the heat. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or black pepper if needed. Strain the sauce over the lamb. Garnish with the parsley and the lemon zest. Serve right away. Rice is a good accompaniment for this light stew.

Dining with the Saints is written by Erica De Mane (

Dining with the Saints





The Feast of San Marco, April 25th




Risi e Bisi


Risi e Bisi (rice with fresh peas) is a very old Venetian dish, dating from the Renaissance when green peas where as expensive and luxurious as truffles. It was served to the Doge annually on April 25th for La Festa di San Marco, in honor of St. Mark, the Patron Saint of Venice, Italy. This beautiful and delicate spring dish is still made every April 25th to celebrate the city’s saint.

Dining with the Saints is a monthly feature written by Erica De  Mane, author of several books and columns on Italian cooking as well as a blog called Skinny Guinea at


(Serves four)



1 1/2 lbs. fresh peas in their pods

2 quarts light chicken broth


Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup diced pancetta

2 shallots, cut into small dice

2 cups carnaroli or vialone nano rice

A pinch of ground cinnamon

A slightly bigger pinch of ground nutmeg

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus a little more for serving.

A handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves lightly chopped


Shell the peas and reserve the pods. Put the pods in a saucepot. Pour in the chicken broth and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let this simmer, uncovered, for about ½ hour. Strain and keep warm.


Choose a wide, shallow pan. Get it hot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the butter. Add the pancetta and sauté until it crisps. Add the shallots and sauté until they’re softened. Add the rice and the peas, seasoning with salt, black pepper, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Sauté the rice and peas for about a minute, coating everything well with oil. Start adding the pea broth, a ladleful at a time while you stir the rice. Continue stirring and adding broth as it evaporates until the rice and peas are both tender, about 16 to 17 minutes. Pull the rice from the heat and add the Parmigiano, the parsley, and enough additional broth (or warm water, if you’ve run out) to achieve a loose consistency (this dish is served a little looser than a traditional risotto). Check the seasoning, adding more salt or freshly ground black pepper if needed. Serve right away with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle over the top.





Saint Patrick

 389 – 461 

Though not usually considered a novena saint, Saint Patrick is called upon by many for faith in the most trying of circumstances. Since he himself was forced to submit to living in a country not of his own choosing, he asists in accepting difficult situations where there is little hope of change. The patron saint of Ireland, he is credited with single-handedly changing the beliefs of the entire Irish nation through the purity and intensity of his faith. Saint Patrick’s following has spread to wherever the Irish have settled, especially in North America and Australia. He could never have imagined the astounding impact that his work in Ireland would have on the world.

 Novena to Saint Patrick

     O great apostle of Ireland, glorious Saint Patrick,

     To whom under God so many are indebted for the most

     Precious of all treasures, the great gift of faith,

     Receive our fervant thanks for the zeal and charity

     That have been to thousands the blessings so

     invaluable. We ask your intervention in receiving


     (Mention your request here). Ask for all who dwell in this land and the land of thy labors the precious light of Faith, and beg for us on whom its

glorious rays have long since beamed, the grace to regulate our lives by its sacred maxims. Amen


Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

 Feast Day: March 17

 Patron Saint of: Ireland, Nigeria

 Invoked: for Faith, against rabies, serpents, the torments of hell








Saint Joseph 

First Century

 A poor carpenter and a direct descendant of the house of David, Saint Joseph was selected by God from all the men in the world to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ, an average person exalted to he highest level of respect and achievement. He readily accepted this and other directives for God and never shirked his responsibilty to his family. Thus, Joseph epitomizes the role of father-protector. Many of the greatest saints have called on Joseph for protection. His novena is considered to be powerful, one that can be invoed for any trouble. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I don’t recall up to this day ever having petitioned him for anything that he fails to grant. It is an amzing thing, the great many favors God has granted me through the meditation of this blessed saint.” In Italy, where his feast is a major religious holiday, Saint Joseph is believed to have the power to break all natural law. It is said that since Jesus always obeyed Joseph when he was his father on earth, Joseph is accorded the same power in heaven.

 Novena to Saint Joseph

 O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request here).

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God.

(The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph).

O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glory f his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.

 This novena can be practiced at any time of year. It is particularly effective if done for the seven Sundays prior to the feast of Saint Joesph in honor of his seven sorrows and seven joys.


Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

 Feast Day: March 19

 Saint Joseph is the patron of: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Carpenters, fathers

 Invoked: against doubt, for the sale of a house, to find work



Above two novenas from “Novena: The Power of Prayer”

By Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua



Dining with the Saints in Honor of St. Joseph


Pasta Con La Mollica

San Giuseppe, husband to Mary, patron saint of orphans, unwed mothers, the needy, the homeless, and all things family, both good and unfortunate, is one of the most important saints in Italy and in the Catholic world. He is a patron saint of Southern Italy and of Sicily in particular, having, through the peoples’s prayer, saved the island from a serious drought in the Middle Ages. His feast day, March 19, is known as La Tavola di San Giuseppe and is celebrated with enormous banquets. Every conceivable type of food is offered, and churches’ altars are festooned with decorative breads, sweet and savory, in honor not only of him but also of the spring solstice and the ancient tradition of celebrating the renewed fertility of the earth. The breads are shaped into fish, lambs, fruits, flowers, and just about any other of God’s creations.

San Giuseppe is also the patron of pastry cooks, so sweets play a big part in the celebration. Sfinci—deep-fried cream puffs filled with ricotta or custard—are the best-known pastries made in St. Joseph’s honor. You can find them in Palermo and in Brooklyn and in Philadelphia. In Naples they make the unfilled versoin called zeppole. Cassateddi, a sweet ricotta-filled ravioli, is a beautiful creation you’ll find on the St. Joseph’s Day table in many Sicilian homes. The sweet theme even extends to pasta. One of my favorite Saint Joseph’s Day dishes is pasta con la mollica. Mollica means soft bread crumbs in Italian, but the dish, probably from the Renaissance, also includes sugar, cinnamon, and a little garlic. The bread crumbs symbolize the sawdust that would have covered the floor of Joseph’s manger. The combination of flavors might sound odd, but they make a beautiful and strangely appealing dish worth tasting. Serve it in small portions as a first course, or even as a dessert.

Pasta Con La Mollica for San Giuseppe

(Serves 6 as a first course)

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup homemade bread crumbs, not too finely ground
1 tablespoon sugar
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup dry Marsala
A handful of lightly toasted slivered almonds

In a medium-size sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium flame. Add the bread crumbs, and season with a pinch of salt. Sauté until lightly golden and crisp. Pull the pan from the heat, and add the sugar and the cinnamon, stirring them in to the breadcrumbs.

Set up a large pot of pasta cooking water, and bring it to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, and drop in the spaghetti.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the butter over low heat. Add the garlic, and sauté slowly, just until it turns lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the Marsala, and let it boil for about a minute, leaving some liquid in the skillet. Take out the garlic.

When the spaghetti is al dente, drain it, leaving some water clinging to its strands, and add it to the skillet, along with the almonds. Toss gently over low heat until the spaghetti is well coated with the garlic oil. Add salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and add more olive oil if needed to coat the pasta.

Pour the spaghetti into a warmed large serving bowl. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs, and give it all a gentle toss. Serve right away.

Dining with the Saints is written by Erica De  Mane. This will be a regular feature of this blog. Erica is the author of several books on Italian cooking. She also has an Italian cooking blog at

Australia / Francis Xavier, 1506–1552, Feast Day: December 3

A friend of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, Francis became one of the most successful missionaries in history. Dedicated to working in the Far East, he converted over forty thousand people in Goa, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the outer islands of Japan. He died before he could reach China. After his death, he often became the patron of territories in newly discovered regions of the world.

Other patronages: Borneo, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal; foreign missions; sailors, tourists Invoked: against hurricanes, plague