Michele Zullo, born in Paduli and settled in Jamaica, Queens, where he established his shoemaking business, was awarded the honorific title of “Commendatore” on October 28, 1949. If you have read my earlier blogposts you would know that this honor was given to him at the urging of Giovambattista Follo, Abbot of the Church of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle in Paduli, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the church including providing the Bell and the Organ.
The society that awarded him the title is La Reale Casa Normanna d’Altavilla (The Royal Norman House of Altavilla, or Hauteville in French) that traces its foundation and hereditary rights back to the Hauteville Normans who ruled over Sicily and much of Southern Italy during the 11th and 12th centuries. Scions of this royal house played large roles in Paduli’s early history. In theory the Gran Maestro (Grand Master) of the House is the Pretender to the Thrones of Sicily and Naples. In practice the society acts in ways similar to the Knights of Malta who issue awards and participate in various events related to the Catholic Church. The title Commendatore is one of several titles under the Order of the Norman Crown. It is given in recognition of efforts on behalf of the Church.
Order of the Norman Crown of D’Altavilla
The Grand Master
In recognition of the personal merits of
Mr. Michele Zullo
Confers upon him the Knightly Title of
According to the rights and privileges sanctioned by law and reserved by hereditary attribution unto the Royal, August and Sovereign Norman House of d’Altavilla according to the Forms of Concession referred to in Private Acts.
From His Residence in Rome, 28 October 1949 (Signature illegible except for surname D’Altavilla)
Order of the Norman Crown of Altavilla
I believe that a number of other Padulese immigrants received similar diplomas. I know of one, Felice Minicozzi (di Rocco), who received a diploma awarding him the title Cavaliere, but I do not know whether he received it for his efforts relating to the Plaque and Organ or for some other reason. Felice was a leader among the members of the Oyster Bay Committee for the Plaque and Organ donated in 1949. He also attended the ceremony of the Blessing of the Bell in Paduli.