MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Uncle Tony’s story

Sunday, June 14th, 2009


Filmed in Chorio, Italy, March 2008 by Michael Frierson, UNC-Greensboro.

Veteran’s Day

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

While it’s something we should do every day of the year, this day is set aside to honor the members of our military, past and present, who defend our freedoms around the world. I especially think about my father and his four brothers, members of The Greatest Generation, all of whom served in the U.S. military during either World War II or the Korean War.

In defense of Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Writing in Forbes.com, columnist Melik Kaylan evaluates the long-held criticism of Pope Pius XII as doing too little to speak out against Nazi atrocities and (as I concluded through my own research) found it lacking. The WWII pope’s journey to canonization continues at the Vatican. Kaylan’s compelling commentary is here.

Excerpt: “In truth, Hitler hated Pius and Pius deplored both National Socialism and Communism, as countless extant documents show. He struggled against both incessantly, but the Soviets outlasted him, and their revenge has endured even in the West, giving rise to a dubious branch of Holocaust studies devoted entirely to blackening Pius’ reputation. It’s worth citing a few incontestable instances of Pius’ interventions on behalf of Jewish lives:

1. The issuing of 1,600 visas per year from 1939 to 1945 for Jews to escape from Europe to the Dominican Republic. 2. Out of some 8,000 Roman Jews, some 7,000 survived by taking refuge in Vatican buildings. 3. In Hungary, the Church gave an estimated 80,000 certificates to Jews showing they were baptized Catholics to exempt them from harm. 4. The church helped countless thousands to escape to Romania; some 360,000 Jews would leave for Israel from Romania up to the year 1965.”

The First Miracle

Sunday, July 27th, 2008


This video was shot in Chorio, a small village in the southern Aspromonte in Calabria. The saint and his cousin, Carmelo Catanoso, who was my grandfather, were both born there. My Uncle Tony is the star of this story. He calls it The First Miracle. It is, without doubt, one of my favorite stories in the book, taking place as it does during World War II — in Chorio. Sticklers should note: this miracle was not vetted by the pope’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This video was shot and produced by UNC-Greensboro film professor Michael Frierson in Italy last March.

Rina remembers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Rina Catanoso
Tonight at The Monti in Chapel Hill, I will tell the story of my Uncle Tony and how he came to find and meet his long-lost aunt during World War II in Chorio, the Calabrian village where his father was born. There’s a side story that I won’t tell but is in my book, and it centers on Rina Catanoso, the lovely Italian woman on the left. She remembered the day in 1944 when Uncle Tony showed up in the piazza in Chorio and the commotion it caused. Two summers ago, she invited me to her home in Messina, Sicily, to share the story. Others pictured here include her husband, who was held as a POW by Americans during the war, as well as her three daughters and son-in-law. Next to me is Patrizia Catanoso, my cousin from Reggio.

The News & Observer wrote about the Monti on Sunday.

Photos from Sicily

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I love to post photographs on this blog, particularly from Calabria. Sometimes simple tourist shots tell a greater tale than the best photo essayist. Here’s an example, with lots of photos — a retired teacher and football coach from California sharing highlights from his recent visit to Catania, Sicily. My paternal grandmother, Caterina Foti Catanoso, was from a tiny fishing village, Riposta, located just north of Catania near Taormina. The coach’s photos of the WWII museum remind me of my Uncle Tony’s experiences there in 1943 as part of Operation Husky, the allied invasion of Sicily.

Thanks coach. Buon viaggo.

Uncle Tony

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Uncle Tony, originally uploaded by mycousinthesaint.

Here I am with my Uncle Tony and Aunt Phyllis in NJ on May 23. Uncle Tony is one of the stars of Part I of my story. An American soldier during WWII in Sicily, Uncle Tony went AWOL one week to search for an aunt he had never met before. He told me later that finding her was “the first miracle” of Saint Gaetano Catanoso (who wasn’t even a saint at the time!). My brother Len Catanoso took this photo.

New video: The First Miracle

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

In 1944, during World War II, Tony Catanoso, my uncle, went AWOL from his Army post in Palermo, Sicily, to search for his aunt, Maria Catanoso, in Calabria. There was just one problem. He had no idea where she lived. He deemed his finding her several days later “the first miracle” of Padre Gaetano Catanoso, who wasn’t even a saint yet! This video was shot in Chorio, Italy, and produced by Michael Frierson.

Please see Michael’s other videos on the Multimedia page here.