La Societa’ Indipendente Paduli Benevento

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Alexander DeAngelis and Joseph Avella, March 16, 2021

The purpose of this posting is to gather together what is known about the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento and make it available to all.

The Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento is one of three organizations listed on the Bronze Plaque hanging on the wall in the Church of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle in Paduli. The Plaque commemorates the Padulesi in America who donated a Grand Hammond Organ to the Church in 1949. The other two organizations were the Società di M.S. Paduli (M.S. likely stands for Mutuo Soccorso – that is, Mutual Aid), and the Paduli Civic Club. Although we know relatively little about these three organizations, we do know a bit more about the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento than we do about the other two. What we know in large part is due to Joseph Avella who saved written materials and images treasured by his mother, Katherine Mainella. Joseph’s father was Sam Avella whose name appears on the Bronze Plaque mentioned above.

Before proceeding further, it will be helpful to our understanding of these documents and images to know something about how Joseph Avella came into possession of them. Joseph’s mother, Katherine Mainella, was the daughter of Clementina Massimiano of Paduli. Clementina and her sister, Orsola, emigrated to the United States. Clementina met and married Giuseppe Mainella in East New York, Brooklyn, which had a large number of Padulese immigrants. They had five children, among whom were Katherine and her brother Frank S. Mainella, in whose honor one of the Dinner-Dances mentioned below was given. Michele Barone, who also was honored by a Dinner-Dance, as will be seen below, was Orsola Massimiano’s son.

The materials that we have in hand about the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento include the following:

1) a large format photograph of attendees at a dinner-dance hosted by the Società,

2) two printed Testimonial-Dinner-and-Dance-Programs held in honor of Dr. Frank S. Mainella and Dr. Michael C. Barone in 1939 and 1941 respectively,

3) a Seating List for the Testimonial Dinner-Dance in honor of Michele Barone,

4) a group photograph, that appeared in Il Progresso, the Italian language newspaper of New York published by Generoso Pope, of attendees at the Testimonial in honor of Frank S. Mainella,

5) a newspaper article in the Vita Sociale section of Il Progresso, describing a Testimonial Dinner-Dance held in honor of Rev. Enrico De Vivo,

6) a three-page pamphlet dated July 27, 1949 bearing an encomium and decree from the Archbishop of Benevento investing Rev. De Vivo with the title Abbot of the Monastery Santa Maria Faifolis,

7) and a separate newspaper photo and text about Prof. Albert P. D’Andrea who attended many of the Dinner-Dances.   

Images of all these items, except the large format photograph, are reproduced herein. The large format photograph will be added later.

Lacking any founding documents of the Società, we are left to surmise its purpose and the nature of its activities from what we have. It seems that the Società functioned both as a social organization that provided a means for its members to enjoy each other’s company and also as a vehicle for honoring selected people from the Padulese community in the United States. The Seating List for the Dinner-Dance in honor of Michael C. Barone contains over 350 names. If other such occasions were similarly well-attended, then we can say that the gala activities of the Società were fairly grand affairs including rosters of notables, clergy, and many guests as well as live music and performances by leading opera stars. We can also surmise that many of the people on that list were members of the Società and also that many of them were residents of East New York. We hope that other documents will come to light that will help us better understand the overall functions and history of the Società.

Testimonial Dinner and Dance Tendered to Dr. Frank S. Mainella

The Testimonial Dinner and Dance in honor of Dr. Frank S. (Saverio) Mainella was held at the Hotel Diplomat at 108 West 43rd Street, New York City on November 12th, 1939. (The hotel was demolished in the 1994.) Frank Mainella was a decorated Army surgeon in the China-Burma Theater in World War II with the 45th Surgical Unit. (Pictures of Frank and of his unit have been posted on the internet by his niece Elise Feiner, Joseph Avella’s sister. ) In the picture that appeared in the newspaper (see below), Dr. Frank S. Mainella is seated at the table with his mother, Clementina Massimiano Mainella, and his wife immediately to his right. Standing just above Dr. Mainella is Father Enrico De Vivo of Paduli who was the Pastor of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. (One can find out more about Rev. De Vivo in a separate post in PaduliinAmerica.com) The caption below the picture, besides identifying Dr. Mainella and his wife and mother, identifies only one other person by name, “il giudice D’Andrea”, Judge D.(Dilette) Joseph D’Andrea who acted as Toastmaster for the event.

Frank Mainella center left and mother Clementina Massimiano by his right, Michael Barone third from left, Rev. Enrico DeVivo standing above Clementina and Frank

Testimonial Dinner and Dance Tendered To Dr. Michael C. Barone – November 16, 1941

The Testimonial Dinner and Dance Tendered to Dr. Michael C. Barone, Under the Auspices of the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento, was held at the Hotel Pennsylvania at 401 Seventh Avenue (33rd Street and 7th Avenue), New York City, on Sunday, November 16th, 1941.

Testimonial Dinner and Dance Tendered to Cav. Rev. Enrico De Vivo

Rev. Enrico De Vivo

Although we do not have a printed program for this event, we do have a newspaper article about it from “Il Progresso,” that contains much of the same kinds of information that was included in the printed programs. The Dinner-Dance occurred one week after the celebration of Rev. De Vivo’s Golden Jubilee (fifty years as a priest). As he was ordained on August 6, 1899, the Golden Jubilee occurred sometime in or after August 1949.

English Translation of Il Progresso Article In the Social Life Section

“A Grand Banquet in Honor of Mons. Abbot Don Enrico De Vivo at the Biltmore Hotel”

Sunday night, after nearly a week of grand festivities in tribute to Monsignor Abbot Don Enrico De Vivo in Connellsville, Pa. on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of his ordination as a priest, immigrants from Paduli held a sumptuous banquet and ball in his honor.

The main salon of the Biltmore Hotel in New York was transformed into a veritable greenhouse of flowers with an especially eye-capturing cascade of water that flowed over a parapet.

After a sumptuous lunch, during which dancing took place to lively and carefree rhythms, a number of speeches were given.

Mr. Luigi De Vivo, brother of [Rev.] Don Enrico and Chairman of the evening, in the name of the banquet committee and of the family welcomed the numerous diners and introduced the Toastmaster for the evening, Mr. Frank Massimiano who, in a few brief words, explained the great significance of the gathering and called upon the Very Rev. Nicola Fusco, a noted writer and journalist of New Kensington, Pa.

Rev. Fusco, to the ovation of the audience, spoke of Mons. De Vivo’s great achievements defining him as a New Apostle of Christianity.

Afterwards, Mrs. Annita Ragusa, a prima soprano, who is gifted with a truly superior voice and incomparable artistry, sang selections from classical opera that electrified her numerous listeners especially the impassioned romance “Un bel di vedremo” (one beautiful day we shall see)

The Very Reverend Vincenzo Galliano, Pastor of the Church of the Purification in Elwood City, Pa., and companion of the Honoree in seminary, after a brief preamble on the religious life of Mons. A. De Vivo, read the decree of his investiture as Abbot of the Church of Santa Maria di Faifolis [a monastery in the Province of Benevento] signed by Archbishop Agostino Mancinelli of Benevento.

Following this, Rev. Pasquale Mele and Rev. Giuseppe De Vivo, a nephew of the honoree just recently arrived in America with 19 other young priests on special missions, spoke briefly.

The young Reverends, visibly moved, after a lively discussion, presented Mons. A. De Vivo with the chalice of gold that he used when he said his first Mass.

This act underscored both the philosophical and sentimental significance of the gift . It was warmly applauded by the attendees.  Dr. Michele Barone, in the name of the banquet committee presented to the honoree a magnificent altar cloth of inestimable value richly embroidered in Italy.

Biographical Highlights of Mons. De Vivo

Born 25 February 1876 in the little town of Paduli in Benevento Province.

At the age of 12 he entered the Seminary of Benevento where he was ordained a priest.

He celebrated his first Mass on 15 August, 1899, in the historical Church of Saint Bartholomew.

Subsequently, for three years he studied at the College of the Nobility in Naples and in the Institute of the Barnabitan Fathers.  At the age of 26 he emigrated to the United States and was assigned to be an assistant in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in New York.  A missionary by both instinct and conviction, he accepted the suggestion that he go to Connellsville, Pa., where nine of his predecessors had tried to construct a grand Catholic center ending only in destruction and disillusionment. From such a disastrous beginning, Father De Vivo succeeded in founding a grand religious institution constituting a milestone of the Catholic Religion in the State of Pennsylvania.

In fact, in his impassioned and eloquent expression of gratitude at last Sunday’s banquet, Father De Vivo noted the great difficulties and truly exceptional sacrifices made in order to complete his noble work of civilization and patriotism.

This magnificent gathering closed with a benediction  by Rev. Giuseppe Di Lanna.

Before commencing with the dancing, which possiblly would proceed until quite late, Maestro Giuseppe Gioe’ played the song “I’ me ricordo e Napule” on the piano which he composed and which later became immortalized by the great Enrico Caruso. 

Newspaper Announcement of the election of the only American to the British Art Society

Prof. d’Andrea was a frequent participant in the meetings of the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento

NOTE TO READERS: If anyone reading this has information about the Società Indipendente Paduli Benevento, please feel free to contact Alex DeAngelis, 571 442-1801, alexander.deangelis@gmail.com.

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Alexander DeAngelis and Joseph Avella – March 16, 2021

THE END

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