From July 26 through July 30, members and representatives of 113 chapters from across the country converged on Scottsdale, Arizona, at the J.W. Camelback Inn Resort and Spa for their 95th annual convention. The agenda was packed full of issues of great importance to the organization’s motto “Service Above Self”.

UNICO was founded by Doctor Anthony Vastola on October 10, 1922, in Waterbury, Connecticut. There were 15 men at the first meeting lead by Dr. Anthony Vastola. His dream was to create a service organization funded by Italians that would engage in charitable works, support higher education and perform patriotic deeds. The name in Italian means unique and it was to become unique in its service to our nation.

In keeping with the reason for the founding of the organization, UNICO National created committees such as the Jimmy V. Cancer, Cooley’s Anemia (fights a decease that affects people the from Mediterranean area), Mental Disease, Anti-Bias, Columbus Day, Disasters here and abroad, Italian studies, various scholarships funding careers in engineering, nursing, science, fine arts, language and a variety of other fields of study. Members from all over the country volunteer to be part of these and more of the organization’s endeavors to serve locally, nationally and globally. They have forged friendships that last throughout the years and have joined with other national Italian organizations to keep Columbus Day alive and to fight bigotry and discrimination against Italians and others.

Locally, we are very fortunate to have the St. Louis Chapter of UNICO here in our city. The chapter holds the Alphonse Lordo Memorial Golf Classic annually that benefits Our Little Haven, Siteman Cancer Center, John L. Trotter Multiple Sclerosis Project and the Multiple Sclerosis Center of St. Louis plus other local charities.

Many of the organization’s members across the country fund these activities. At the convention in July, the UNICO Foundation voted to award the St. Ambrose Society in St. Louis with a $1,000 grant from the Torraco family.

The St. Ambrose Society is the brain child of the parish deacon, Joseph Fragale. More than a year ago, he began a program to feed the homeless starting with parish volunteers making 1500 sandwiches that were then brought to St. Patrick’s Center. The program has swelled to include Father Dempsey’s Charities which feeds homeless veterans, Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order she established here and other homeless food programs. Fragale is currently planning an expansion of the society’s activities which includes partnerships Criminal Justice Ministry (CJM) of the Archdiocese and St. Vincent’s Orphanage.

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FIAO Open House

Interested in taking an Italian course?  
Thinking about traveling to Italy? 
Want to speak Italian to others?
Learn more about the Italian Language Program and Meet the Teachers
 sponsored by the 
The Federation of Italian American Organizations
Open House
this Wednesday, September 6
St. Mary Magdalen School
(Kingshighway and Sutherland Aves)
enter from the rear parking lot off of Sutherland
Please email or call Marie if you plan to attend.
Courses offered this fall:
Beginner’s I-  Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30p.m.
Beginner’s II- Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30p.m.
Italian for Travelers- Thursday evenings from 7-9p.m.
(for 6 weeks)
Special Topics Course- Thursday evenings               from 7-9p.m.
Classes are 12-weeks (except for Italian for Travelers)
2-hours per class
1 night per week
$75 for the 12-week classes
$38 for the 6-week class
You can register on our website:
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Collection of St. Pio’s relics make first visit to St. Louis


A collection of relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina — known to many as Padre Pio — will be visiting the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the first time later this month.

The relics will be on display for public veneration from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Assumption Church in Mattese. Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m.

Collection of St. Pio’s relics make first visit to St. Louis

This is the first time the the relics will be in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The visit is part of an 11-diocese tour in September and October. The tour marks the 130th anniversary of Padre Pio’s birth and the 15th anniversary of his canonization.

The relics include St. Pio’s glove, the crusts of his wounds from the stigmata, a cotton gauze with his blood stains, a lock of his hair, his mantle and a handkerchief that was soaked with his sweat hours before he died.

Born in 1887 in Pietrelcina, Italy, he was baptized Francesco Forgione. He expressed a desire to become a priest at the age of 10. In order to pay for his education, his father, Grazio Forgione, emigrated to the United States in 1899, where he worked for several years.

He entered the Capuchin order at 15, taking the name Pio. He was ordained in 1910 at the age of 23. During his lifetime, he was known as a mystic with miraculous powers of healing and knowledge.

He was most famously known for bearing the stigmata — a term used by the Church to describe the wounds an individual receives that mimic the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.

St. Pio’s stigmata appeared during World War I, after Pope Benedict XV asked Christians to pray for an end to the war. He had a vision in which Jesus pierced his side. A few weeks later, on Sept. 20, 1918, Jesus again appeared to him, and he received the full stigmata. It remained with him until his death on Sept. 23, 1968. Pope John Paul II canonized him in 2002.

Calling his spiritual presence “almost touchable,” St. Pio is considered a contemporary saint who is among the few saints that received supernatural powers, said Luciano Lamonarca, president and CEO of the Saint Pio Foundation.

“I have never seen a devotion so big as Padre Pio,” Lamonarca said. “There are cases of people healed by his intercession. The relics are giving the faithful a way of having a more direct contact with Padre Pio. I was personally moved by this when I travel around the country promoting (his) legacy and see there are people who have so deep a passion for Padre Pio … who have never met him.”

Assumption pastor Father Thomas Keller said the parish is looking forward to hosting the relics. “I remember hearing about Padre Pio as a kid and being intrigued by the whole phenomenon of the stigmata. For me, the abiding question is about each of us coming to know the reality of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion.”

>> St. Pio relics

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Assumption Church, 4725 Mattis Road in Mattese.

MORE INFO: For more information, call (314) 487-7970 or email baslerb@assumptionstl.org. Or visit www.saintpiofoundation.org. Donations raised during the tour will be donated to build the Via Crucis in Pietrelcina where Padre Pio received his first signs of the stigmata.

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Don’t worry I haven’t suddenly turned Italian and although the music in this blog will be in Italian, the text won’t be.

The thing is every once in a while I like to deviate from my usually heavier historical subjects to a more light-hearted one.

I love Italy, I had the chance to visit the country several times especially a small town called Valli del Pasubio and a even smaller village called Sturma(you’ll ne hard pressed to find it on a map). I first visited as a young teenager


To be honest I fell in love with the place.It is where I first learned how to eat proper food,not the potatoes and apple sauce diet I had insisted on prior to that. The food was just heavenly and 16 stone further I still have a loving relationship with food.

The blog however is about Italian music and not food.Even before I set foot in Italy I had a bit of a weak spot for Italian music,although I was a metal head, I couldn’t help falling for the soothing tones of the Italian language converted into music.

Italian music is often referred to as Italo Pop or Italo Disco but I don’t think any of these names capture the essence of the music.

Although I don’t really understand the songs, I do know that they tell a story just by the rhythm of the tunes. The song above called Gente di Mare(people of the sea),by Umberto Tozzi & Raf lost out in 1987 to Johnny Logan at the Eurovision Contest.

This one of my all time favourites by Matia Bazar” Ti sento” which I believe means I feel you, the haunting husky voice just adds so much atmosphere to the song.

I am not an emotional man but the first time I heard Andrea Bocelli it literally send shivers down my spine.The combination of a classical tenor and contemporary music is just magical, like a fairy tale coming to life.

This song is proof that the language of music is without constraints and ignores physical borders. Sung in Italian,Dutch and English by an Italian Dutch man Marco Borsato and Andrea Bocelli. If this doesn’t give you Goosebumps nothing will.

Another 80’s Italian classic


I hope you enjoy the music just as much as I did. Finishing up with my favorite Italian song, it is jazz song in it’s purest and sincerest form by Paolo Conte.



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