Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009


These photos are from our current snow storm in the Washington D.C. area. Librizzi doesn't get much snow, just a dusting every few years. I want to share and dedicate these snow photos with my Librizzi family and friends and my American family and friends as well.

Cari amici e familiari librizzesi, queste foto sono per voi. So quanto vi piace una buona nevicata e dedico a voi la bella nevicata in Virginia di ieri. Le foto mostrano la neve vicino la mia casa. 



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remembrances of Christmases in Librizzi

I remember with great nostalgia the Christmas celebrations in Librizzi. They are of course, the memories of a child who grew up during the Second World War. 
I remember that mom used to prepare traditional cookies and other specialties enjoyed at Christmas time.  The traditional Librizzi sweets were the torrone, ‘panuzzi’, biscotti, pignolata, and ‘crispeddi’(crispelle).  The torrone was a mixture of sugar, honey, orange zest, hazelnuts and almonds.  The panuzzi were made with sweetened dough, shaped into ovals, and studded with toasted hazelnuts.  The panuzzi were prepared for us children and for all of the young cousins.  Traditionally, on Christmas day children visited all of their relatives who gave to them gifts of panuzzi, dried figs and other dried and fresh fruit, nuts, and small gifts.



The biscotti (soft cookies not the biscotti that Americans are familiar with) were made with a sweet dough similar to the one used to make the panuzzi.  The dough was fashioned into intricate shapes such as circles, the letter S, pretzels, crescents, spirals, etc.  Before baking the cookies they were decorated with jimmies, colored candies, nonpareils, ….
The preparation for the ‘crispeddi’ was a little complicated.  The procedure began with a mixture of flour, yeast, salt and hot water, mixed for a long time with one’s hands until it became   soft, almost a liquid dough.  The mixture would then be allowed to rise for a long time, at least three hours.  When the crispeddi maker (mother) determined that the dough was ready, the next phase began.  Oil was placed in a deep fryer and allowed to boil to the proper temperatures, then spoonfuls of dough was dropped in the oil and cooked until it obtained a golden color.  Some of the crispeddi were prepared plain and after they cooled down, they were topped with honey and or sugar. Other crispeddi were filled with small pieces of anchovies before they were dropped in the hot oil. My favorite crispeddi were the ones covered with honey and sugar.

Food photos by Carmelo Rifici
The special foods were only a small part of the Christmas celebrations because for the Librizzesi Christmas was primarily a religious holiday.  Many days before Christmas Zampognari, shepherds, arrived in town and until Christmas day, in the wee hours of the morning, they would walk the streets of Librizzi to wake up people with the sounds of their cornamusa, bagpipes.  Once arisen people went to church even before sunrise, to recite the Novena as part of the religious preparations for the arrival the Baby Jesus.

The Christmas Eve Mass was a special event.  The church was decorated with oranges, mandarins, lemons, and the leaves and branches of the trees that bore these fruit (remember this is Sicily where citrus fruit grows in abundandce).  I still remember the delicious fragrances of those delightful Christmas vigils in church.  The Presepe, or Nativity Scene, was the most important decoration in the church, children were allowed to go up to the  Presepe to admire the statue of the Baby Jesus.  Many Librizzesi erected Presepi in their own homes, they would recreate imaginary towns with waterfalls, snow, stars, shepherds,  ….  I remember them as true artistic creations.

A few people put up Christmas trees and these were of interest and curiosity to most people, because Christmas trees were unusual and strange in those times.  The people who put up the trees had visited or lived in the United States and then returned to Librizzi.
I keep up some of the Christmas customs of my childhood.  Each year I put up a large Presepe, I prepare the cookies, panuzzi, and torrone.  And of course, I also put up a Christmas tree, prepare American style cookies and other popular goodies, I have a large collection of Santa Clauses, and another large collection of Angels.  I try to remember the true reason for the celebration of Christmas, even though we live in a materialistic and secular world where Christmas seems to be an excuse to get as many gifts as possible.  It seems to me that the values of our ancestors should not be forgotten or belittled.  May there always be:


Small section of my Presepe

Della Robbia


1.    Pignolata (another name for this dessert is Strufoli).
·         3 large eggs
·         1 tablespoon butter, softened
·         1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 cup honey
·         Vegetable oil for deep-frying
·         Colored sprinkles  
   Whisk together eggs, butter, and the 1 teaspoon of sugar, whisk until frothy.  Stir in the baking powder and the flour. When well combined, with your hands work the mixture into a soft dough.
When the dough is ready, divide it into 4 pieces. Lightly flour a work surface, and roll each of the four pieces into a rope about the width of an index finger. Cut the ropes into 1" pieces.    
In a deep fryer, heat oil to 375° Place a few pieces of dough at a time in the hot oil, fry the strufoli until they are golden brown. They will puff up as they fry. 
Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Let excess oil drip back into fryer before putting strufoli on paper towels.  
Combine honey and 1/2 cup sugar in a large saucepan over low heat.  Stir constantly until sugar dissolves into the honey.  Turn heat to very low, just enough to keep warm.  Add the drained strufoli, a few at a time, and turn them with a wooden spoon to coat on all sides.
Transfer strufoli to a large platter and mound them into a pyramid. Sprinkle with the colored sprinkles, (pine nuts may also be added) and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. They will adhere to each other. Break off pieces to eat.  

2.    Aunt Grazia hazelnut ‘cookies’:

Roast and then finely chop about two pounds of filbert nuts. Add a cup of sugar and mix. Add about 90 grams of Perugina Cacao (if using regular cacao, add some vanilla). Add about half a cup, or less, of strong coffee and mix. Take about a spoonful of the mixture and roll into small ball, then coat with sugar. Eat and enjoy. The ‘cookies’ can be kept for about a week in a tightly sealed container.

3.    Torrone:

Two and a half cups granulated sugar
Two and a half cups almonds, toasted and slightly chopped
Two and a half cups hazelnuts toasted and slightly chopped
One quarter cup honey

Dissolve the sugar with the honey in saucepan and add the almonds and hazelnuts.  Cook for 5-10 minutes over slow heat to allow the flavors to blend.  Pour on a slab of oiled marble (I use a well oiled cookie pan), spread it out with a spatula and cut into short lengths. When the nougat (torrone) is cold, place it in an air tight container. Place wax paper between single layers of torrone pieces.  The torrone will keep for a few weeks, provided you do not eat it within hours of making it!

 My favorite childhood Christmas Carol:

Tu scendi dalle stelle

Tu scendi dalle stelle
O Re del Cielo

E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo
E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo.

O Bambino mio Divino
Io ti vedo qui a tremar,
O Dio Beato!
Ah, quanto ti costò
L'avermi amato.
Ah, quanto ti costò
L'avermi amato.

A te che sei del mondo,
Il creatore,
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.

Caro eletto pargoletto,
Quanto questa povertà
Più mi innamora,
Giacchè ti fece amor
Povero ancora.
Giacchè ti fece amor
Povero ancora

My favorite Christmas song in English:


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.  


Friday, December 11, 2009

Message for Carol Muscarà Lanning


Hello. You have added your name to my blog. Could you please tell me if you are connected to the Librizzi Muscara and how?
There are two lines of Muscarà in Librizzi, they are NOT related.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, December 3, 2009



Recently I read a historical fiction titled “Mistress of the Art of Death” by Ariana Franklin. It is a medieval mystery featuring Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar or as one of the characters in the book says “Dr. Trotula, if you prefer, which is a title conferred on women professors in the school”. The school that conferred Adelia the title of Dr. Trotula is the Scuola Medica Salernitana.

Intrigued by the idea of a woman doctor practicing medicine in the 11th century, I decided to do a little research. I am going to share the information gleaned from my research, hopefully you will find it interesting.

Salerno, a city in the region of Campania in Southern Italy has its origins in the IV century B.C., when it was an Etruscan center. Later it became a Samnite territory, where in 197 B.C. the Romans founded the Colony of Salemum (later called Salerno). After the Roman period Salerno passed from one ruling entity to another acquiring a multicultural identity.

Sometime in the IX Century the Scuola Medica Salernitana was founded in Salerno. According to traditional lore the Scuola was founded by four teachers, an Arab, a Jew, a Latino, and a Greek. They taught in their respective languages. The School was the first University of Medicine in the Western World, and throughout the Middle Ages the University and the many local hospitals enjoyed an enormously prestigious reputation. It was at this center of learning where future doctors studied and where renowned doctors treated their patients. The city of Salerno earned the title of Hippocratica Civitas, a title still used today as part of the city’s Coat of Arms.

In 1076 Salerno became the Norman Capital (think Crusades) but in 1127 the Norman Capital was moved to Palermo. Salerno however remained one of the more important cities in the Kingdom of Sicily. The Kingdom of Sicily was founded by Roger II in 1130 and lasted until 1861. The Kingdom consisted of the Island of Sicily and all of the southern part of the mainland up to the Vatican States, south of Rome. Salerno began to lose its importance under the French and Spanish rulers.

In 1231 Frederick II (“stupor mundi”) as king of Sicily, officially recognized the University of Salerno and forbade the practice of medicine and the teaching of medicine within his dominion without a Royal License. The License was conferred after exams administered by the King’s Court and by the Masters of the University of Salerno. Later The Edict of Salerno, instituted by Frederick II, legally mandated separation of the profession of physician and that of apothecary.

Granted that the Scuola Medica Salernitana holds the distinction of being the first Medical School in the Western world, and that it certainly was the most prestigious center of education during the 10th through the 13th century, but for me the most interesting fact about the Scuola is that in the Middle Ages WOMEN were trained as PHYSICIANS and were also PROFESSORS of medicine at this renown university.These women doctors are historically known as “mulieres Salernitanae”. Of these ‘mulieres’ Trotula was the first woman doctor, considered the world’s first gynecologist, and the most famous.

It is believed that Trotula De Ruggiero was born in the 11th Century in Salerno where she lived, became a doctor, practiced medicine, and trained other doctors. Her husband was the doctor Giovanni Plateario, they had two sons whose names were Giovanni and Matteo, also doctors. Trotula, known in her own day as ‘magistra mulier sapiens’, was not only a smart and strong woman but, reportedly, she was also a beautiful and fascinating woman of her times! Supposedly when she died in 1097, there was a funeral procession three kilometers long. Trotula was such a legendary and idealized figure of the Middle Ages that in later centuries men refused to believe that she actually existed.

Trotula was the author of many medical works, one of which was “Passionibus Mulierum Curandorum (The Diseases of Women), also known as Trotula Major. The book, consisting of 63 chapters, deals with women health issues and diseases, and their treatments. Another of her works was “De Aegritudinum Curatione” or “De Ornatu Mulierum”, also known as Trotula Minor. Trotula’s literary work was used to train physicians for many centuries.

One of Trotula’s opinions was that both men and women could be responsible for infertility, a courageous stance for her times! She also believed that women should not suffer unrelenting pain during childbirth and advocated the use of opiates to dull the labor pains. Of course this also contradicted the opinion of those times that women should suffer pain of childbirth to atone for the sins of Eve. Trotula was an early advocate of balanced diet, regular exercise, cleanliness, and a low stress lifestyle.

Trotula’s fame went beyond Salerno and Italy, as seen in the accounts of well known personages including Geoffrey Chaucer. In the famous “Canterbury Tales” Chaucer refers to Trotula as “DAME TROT”! (According to the sources read by me, Dame Trot is found in the “Wife of Bath Tale”. It has been many years since I read the Tales, as soon as possible I will be re-reading the Bath Tale and hopefully I will find Trot).

The following quote is from tan article written by Jackie Rosenhek on the website

“But nearly a millennia before these fine society ladies were trading med-school war stories over tea and crumpets, one amazing woman was blazing a trail toward equality. A woman who -- if not for the sharp mind and winsome ways which earned her the respect of her patients and male colleagues alike -- would almost certainly have been condemned as a witch. Trotula was her name and illuminating the Dark Ages was her game.”

Around 1840 in honor of Trotula a bronze medal was coined in Naples. It can be found in the Museo Provinciale di Salerno.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


You live as long as you are remembered. 

 Librizzi claims Don Andrea Muscarà as one of her ‘illustrious sons’. The Muscarà Stemma is found in the Church of Maria SS Della Catena in Librizzi.  The Muscarà mentioned inside the Stemma is Don Andrea. The Stemma is located on the wall of the main Altar, above the alcove that houses the famous Gagini statue of the Madonna.
  Don Andrea was born in 1599 and died November 11, 1666.  I am not a hundred percent sure but I am pretty confident that Andrea was the son of  il dottor Giomatteo Muscarà and Gratiosa Mamone.  True that Giomatteo’s brother il dottor Francesco and his wife Thomasa also had a son named Andrea, but Francesco and Thomasa’s Andrea was born in 1617 while Giomatteo and Gratiosa’s Andrea was born in 1599.  There still exist important Judicial Opinions written by the famous lawyer and Chief Judge don Andrea Muscarà, the earliest date that I have for these documents is 1647.  In 1647 one Andrea would be 30 and the other would be 48 years old. It seems to me that the older Andrea would be more experienced and thus more likely to be the one who was appointed to such high offices.  One of the documents that is dated 1647 is titled “Defensionem Immutatis Ecclesiasticis. (The book “Librizzi” cites this document but the date recorded is wrong, it should read 1647. All other resources that list Andrea’s Judicial Opinions say 1647).
The book “Librizzi, Documenti, uomini e fatti prima e dopo il mille” by Antonino D’Amico gives the following information about Don Andrea Muscarà:
“Esperto dell’uno e dell’altro diritto, fu uno dei più celebri avvocati e si segnalò per la sua cultura.  Meritatamente fu insignito di molte onorificenze, assessore della grande curia arcivescovile di Palermo, e parecchie volte della gran curia regia.  Una volta fu giudice del concistoro della regia coscienza e alla fine si distinse come avvocato del fisco dove si mostrò incorruttibile.  Cessò di vivere a Palermo l’11 novembre 1666.  Fu sepolto nella chiesa dei frati di S. Antonio.(pages103-104) 

Chiesa di Sant'Antonio Abate

The following is a translation of the above paragraph:  “Expert in criminal and civil law, he was one of the most famous lawyers and distinguished himself for his knowledge.   Deservedly he was bestowed many honors, Assessor of the Bishop’s Supreme Court of Palermo, and several times of the Supreme Royal Court.  Once he was Judge of the Consistory of Regia Coscienza and toward the end of his life he distinguished himself as the Public Treasury Lawyer where he proved to be incorruptible.  He died in Palermo on November 11, 1666 and was buried in the Chiesa dei Frati di S. Antonio.”
   The location of his tomb was verified by officials of the Bishop’s Archives in Palermo who, in a letter to me, confirmed that “Don Andreas is buried in the Church San Antonio di Padova, 90134 Palermo, Corso Tukory n. 2 Palermo, Sicilia.”
 I found the same information cited in “Librizzi” in the “Bibliotheca Sicula, sive de scriptoribus Siculis qui tum vetera…”, Vol. I,  Antonino Mongitore.  The following is the section on Andrea from the Biblioteca Sicula:
Andreas Muscarà – Libritientis; Juris utriusque Doctor, unus excelebrioribus causarum Patronis, doctrina praeclarus; meritò nonnullis honoribus cohonestatus, Magnae Curiae Archiepiscopalis Panormi Assessor, pluries Magnae Regiae Curiae e femel Concistorii Sacre Reg. Conscientiae Judex: tandem Fisci Patronus effulfit (or essulsit?). Vivere deficit (?) Panormi 11 Novembris 1666. E in Ecclesia S. Antonini Fratrum Strictioris Observatiae S. Francisci Sepulturae traditus est. In lucem emifit (emisit?). This paragraph is followed by a list of briefs/judicial opinions by Andrea.  
 How was Sicily governed under the Spanish Kings?  Here is a brief explanation:  The Kingdom of Sicily was directly governed by a Viceroy who resided in Palermo at the Royal Court (Palazzo Normanno) and remained in power for three years.  He was assisted and somewhat controlled by the Parliamento. The Parliamento was divided into three branches:
a.       The Ecclesiastic, formed by Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests.
b.      The Baronial or Military, composed by Barons, Nobles, and Military Officials.
c.       The Representatives of the Demesnes.  This branch was the most powerful.
 The different branches needed the Royal approval for its legal power.  In those times Legal Justice in Sicily was in the hands of the Judges.  There were three administrative organs, Il Tribunale del Patrimonio which dealt with civil affairs; the Gran Corte which dealt with court appeals;  and the Concistoro della Sacra Coscienza del re, the Supreme Tribunal presided by the Viceroy and three Judges who served for two years at a time. 
As seen above, Don Andrea Muscarà had several important roles in the various legal and civil branches of the Kingdom of Sicily, including the Ecclesiastic branch of Parliament. Three of the specific positions in the Kingdom of Sicily that Don Andrea held were: 
1.      Assessore della Grande Curia Archivescovile di Palermo.
The Curia was the body of congregations, tribunals, and offices through which the Bishops administered their law. Don Andrea was a judge in the Bishop’s Courts.

2.      Assessore della Gran Curia Regia. Don Andrea was a judge of the Gran Curia Regia also known as the Magna Curia.  This office was the highest controlling body in financial matters and had the highest jurisdiction in the Kingdom of Sicily-Royal financial matters.  Some of the departments controlled by the Magna Curia were the general Treasury which controlled the income and expenditures of the Kingdom; Customs; la Secrezia; Commerce of grains; assisted the Viceroy in affairs that dealt with other administrative offices including the administration of the Crusades; etc. 
 3.      Giudice del Concistoro della Regia CoscienzaThis tribunal comes from the ancient institution of Judex Sacrae Regiae Consciencieae.  The King, via the Viceroy, delegated to the Concistoro the appeals of controversial judicial sentences made by the judges of the Gran Corte in civil cases.  The decisions made by the Judges of this Supreme Court of Appeals were binding. 
  Titles of books that contain Don Andrea Muscarà Judicial Opinions:   

   Defensionem Immutatis Ecclesiasticis.  Palermo, tipografo Nicola Bua e Michele Portanova 1647. 

   In folium:  Consilium in Causa Competenctia Iurisdizionis Vertente Inter Eminentis. Dom. Card. Montalto Archepiscopum, tipografo Nicola Bua e Michele Portanova 1647.

    In folium Consilium in Causa Competenctie Iurisdizionis Vertente Inter Eminentis. Dom. Card. Montalto  Archiepiscum Montis Regalis Ex Una, Illustris Inquisitores Partes Ex Altera.  Edito da Francesco Baronio 

     In Consiliis Diversorum Siculorum Super Privilegio Felicis Urbis Panormi, Quod Fiscus Non Possit Principaliter Agere Contra Cives.  Panormi apud Maringum 1656. In 4

  Allegationes apud Paululm Franciscum Berramut In Costictu Iureconsultorii par. 3 to. 2. à p. 290. plurimorimum manibus teritur

    Consultatio Iuridica Extactione Tanadarum In Donativo Per Tria Brachia Impositum, Ill. E Eccell. D. Ferdinando De Ayala Comiti, Ayale E C. Proregi. m. s. in fol.  (1).   

4.      Avvocato del Fisco.  Toward the end of his life, don Andrea was the lawyer for the Royal Patrimony.  Once again, according to several different sources, don Andrea distinguished himself for being incorruptible.

In addition to the information that I cited from the book “Librizzi”, and the “Biblioteca Sicula” by Mongitore, I have found other sources that mention Don Andrea Muscarà.  One piece of information is found in the official Annals of Patti. Currently these records are part of the Archivio Storico Messinese, managed by Società Messinese di Storia Patria. References to il dottor Andrea Muscarà are found in the Patti Annals, pages 313 and 314. The following is a quote from those pages:

“Del resto, i Pattesi non si erano ancora dato pace per il distacco della Montagna, come si può vedere dalla lettera che il 10 dicembre 1642 i giurati scrivevano a Palermo al dottor Andrea Muscarà per ringraziarlo specialmente per la consulta della Montagna e per altri affari, come aveva loro riferito il canonico don Benedetto Florio.  Egli saggiungevano che non essendo ancora spedita l’ultima consulta si ponevano sotto l’ale della sua protettione dalla quale si promettevano ogni buon successo e forse che la ragione di quella povera città dalla mano di un tanto padrone e signor loro superasse ogni potenza.  Per le spese di procuratore e altre che occorressero i giurati avevano scritto al procuratore della città Antonio Marescalco per provvedere.
Il dottor Andrea Muscarà rispondeva ai giurati di Patti, con lettera del 22 dello stesso mese, accettando con piacere la difesa dell’ultima consulta che essi dovevano spedire al vicere per il negozio della Montagna, e promettendo di attendervi con la maggiore diligenza. Più tardi fu incaricato il ...”

In essence the above paragraph refers to a letter that had been written to Andrea Muscarà and sent to him on December 10, 1642.  In the letter the Giurati (governing body) of Patti thank Andrea for the consultation on the territory of Montagna and about other legal affairs.  The Giurati added that they were placing themselves ‘under the wings of his protection’ in the hope that a favorable outcome would be attained.  They added that perhaps the rights of the town of Patti could be preserved through the intercession of the ‘powerful’ Andrea.  Il dottor Andrea Muscarà sent a reply to the Giurati on the 22nd of the same month.  In the letter he accepted with pleasure the defense of the last Patti petition and urged them to send the written petition about the territory of Montagna to the Viceroy.  He also promised to attend to the matter with great diligence. 
It seems to me that Andrea was a re-known figure who worked closely with the Viceroy.  The Viceroy of Sicily in 1642 was Juan Alfonso Enriquez de Cabrera (1642-1644). The King of Sicily was Philip III (1621-1665). 

The historical background to the Montagna-Patti ‘dispute’ is as follows.  Patti ‘Urbis Magnanima, one of the oldest demesnes of the Kingdom of Sicily, fought frequently to keep the privileges given to Patti in 1312 by King Federico and confirmed in 1402 by King Martino. The problems began during the reign of King Philip III of Spain (Philip II of Sicily and Naples) who died in 1621 leaving the Kingdom in disarray, and were further exacerbated during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain (Philip II of Sicily and Naples) who disregarded the long standing demesne rights and sold the territories to the first bidder.  The territory of Montagna, which for centuries had been part of the city of Patti, was one of the territories affected by the Spanish greed and in 1637 decided to separate itself from Patti and form an independent ‘università’ (territory), thus began the territorial conflict between Patti and Montagna.  Andrea Muscarà was one of the influential people approached by the Giurati of Patti to plead their cause at the Royal Court in Palermo; the documented correspondence is in regard to the issues of territorial rights.

 Another source for information on don Andrea Muscarà is found in the “Biblioteca storica e letteraria di Sicilia”, Gioacchino Di Marzo, published in 1870.  Volume 5, ‘Diari della città di Palermo dal Secolo XVI al XIX , years 1653-1675. The following is the entry for the 17th of January, 1664:
“Mancava ancora in Messina il dottor D. Andrea Muscarà, giudice della Gran Corte, il quale fu mandato dal viceré in Catania a prendere possesso dello spoglio ed informazioni della morte del cardinal Astalli , vescovo di detta città , morto con sospetto di veleno. E questo pure era in quella materia contrario de' Messinesi, benché nato nella terra di Librizzi del costretto di Messina. Mancavano pure in Messina due maestri razionali palermitani, cioè D. Lancellotto Castelli marchese di Capizzi, e D. Stefano Riggio principe di Campofranco , pretore di Palermo , come ancora D. Vincenzo Galofaro, palermitano, duca di Rebottone, ch'era maestro portolano del regno , il quale ha pur voto nel consiglio. E finalmente mancava D. Diego Joppulo, presidente del real Patrimonio, il quale fu lasciato in Palermo d' ordine del viceré , per dar gusto ai Messinesi, essendo egli dichiarato da essi lor nemico. In somma si servirono i Messinesi dell' occasione del tempo, cioè ritrovandosi la partita della città di Palermo assai debole verso quella di Messina, per più gran numero di ministri messinesi, come ancora per esser tutti nella lor città , e molto più con l'aura favorevole del viceré e del suo segretario , ambidue capitalissimi nemici di Palermo.”, pages 112-114.
The entry relates that Il Signor duca di Sermoneta, Viceroy of the Kingdom of Sicily, was on this day in Messina in an effort to discuss the ‘unjust privilege’ enjoyed by the Messinesi in regard to the extraction of silk. At the time, silk was a major industry in Sicily, and Messina was the only city that had the right to process the silk cocoons. The Viceroy wanted to revoke this longstanding privilege.  The entry includes a long list of the Council members who represented both sides of the issue. The list is followed by the paragraph that mentions Andrea Muscarà.  Part of the paragraph says the following:  Still absent in Messina was il dottor don Andrea Muscarà, Judge of the Gran Corte, who had been sent by the Viceroy to Catania to take possession of the body of Cardinal Astalli, Bishop of Catania, and obtain information about his suspicious death.      The Bishop’s death was attributed to poisoning.  The entry also notes that Andrea did not agree with the Messinesi about the silk issue even though he was born in Librizzi which was in the jurisdiction of Messina.
  Cardinal Camillo Astalli-Pamphilj, 1616-1663, was nominated Archbishop of Catania during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain.  Astalli had been adopted by the Pamphilj family so that he could fill the role of Cardinal-Nephew for Pope Innocent X (The former Cardinal Gianbattista Pamphili.)  As Cardinal-Nephew, Camillo would receive titles and honors, and he would be the Pope’s confidant as well as the Pope’s Secretary of State.  (The word nepotism is derived from the practice of creating Cardinal-Nephews). Eventually Astalli fell into disgrace for disobeying Pope Innocent X, who had prohibited him to visit the Spanish ambassador in Naples. Astalli had discovered a conspiracy by the Pope and his supporters to invade the Spanish-ruled Naples. Horrified, Astalli warned the Spanish ambassador of the impending invasion.  The Cardinal was demoted and stripped of all titles and honors, eventually he was sent to Catania in Sicily. Within a few years he died and was buried in the Cathedral of Catania.  At the bidding of the Spanish King, Diego de Velazquez painted Astalli’s portrait which today is part of the art collection of the Hispanic Society of America located in New York.

Cardinal Astalli Camillo, 1616-1663

 Painting by Diego de Velazquez

The following are additional sources for information about Andrea Muscarà:

From the ‘Diari della citta di Palermo’ we learn that in 1664 Andrea Muscarà was ‘Giudice della Gran Corte’.  The ‘Diari della citta di Palermo’ also document the Messina-Palermo conflict, and the fact that Andrea Muscarà was absent from the meeting and why.

One of Andrea’s manuscripts can be found at the “Biblioteca Comunale di Palermo”. It is titled: “Consultatio juridica in causa pro exactio ne tandarum in donativo per tria brachia impositarum” – Ms. Del sec. XVII o del XVIII, in-fog.  Qq E 48, n. 5. 

Dizionario topografico della Sicilia, tr. Ed annotato da G. DiMarzo” by Vito Maria Amico e Statella , on page 601 talks about Librizzi and Andrea Muscarà. The following is part of the information given in the ‘Dizionario’ “... Vi sorsero egregii: Andrea Muscarà giureconsulto e celeberrimo avvocato, fregiato di meriti e onori, poichè presiedette più volte giudice della M. R. C. e fu promosso nel 1666 a Patrono del fisco ove mostrossi incorrotto”, pages 600-601.  The other ‘important’ Librizzi person mentioned is Antonio Collurafi, a contemporary of Andrea.
M.R.C.  means Magna Regia Curia

This is the translation of the  paragraph: ‘In Librizzi were born the distinguished: Andrea Muscarà juris-consult and renown lawyer, decorated with many awards and honors, since several times he presided as judge of the M.R.C. and was promoted in 1666 to the position of Patrono del Fisco where he proved to be incorruptible.’  I think that Patrono del Fisco means Counsel for the Royal Revenue.

 Andrea Muscarà is included in “Consuetudini della città di Palermo”, Vito LaMantia (First honorary president of Court of Appeals).  The ‘Consuetudini della città di Palermo’ is a collection of legal documents from Medieval times. One of the volumes included in Consuetudini (Fonti del Diritto) is “Consilia diversorum Siculorum super privilegio felicis urbis Panormi quod Fiscus non possit principaliter agere contra cives (Panormi 1656)” compiled by Francesco Baronio.  This volume includes the consigli of Pietro Corsetto, Tobia Benfari, Ottavio Corsetto, Giuseppe e Lorenzo Faraci, and Andrea Muscarà

The Judicial Opinions by Andrea became the precedent for future Civil and Criminal legislations.  His Opinions are included in “Storia della legislazione civile e criminale di Sicilia comparata con le leggi italiane e straniere, dai tempi antichi sino al presente”, Vito La Mantia. Andrea is found inVolume Secondo,  Parte Prima, Libro Terzo of the “Storia della legislazione...”. This volume deals with Sicily under the Viceroys, 1409-1806. The Capitolo Secondo deals with ‘Leggi civili e criminali, ordine giudiziale e rito’. The section on ‘Leggi Civili’ discusses specific cases that deal with “condition of the people, contracts made by minors and women, marriages, guardianship, dowries, etc.

Of interest to me are the pages that discuss the opinions given by Francesco Baronio, lawyer and magistrate.  His opinions clarify legal ‘doubts’ from previous cases, and questions concerning minors.  An example is the case of the minors Emanuele Muscarà Longobardo, Pensabeno, Berruso, Magretti, “De Inimicitia eiusque causis, et effectibus Palermo 1655. ( CLII – p. 264 and p. 265-280)”. (Emanuele is a new Muscarà for me, and the last name Longobardo is a total surprise. More research will be done in regard to Emanuele, a contemporary of Andrea. Is he Andrea’s son? Is Longobardo Andrea’s wife? Emanuele’s mother?)
Baronio also wrote many additions to ‘i consigli’, given by various giureconsulti, in cases dealing with municipal privileges and the office of revenue.  The privileges forbade the office of revenue to directly bring legal actions against the citizens of Palermo. According to La Mantia the major disagreements between the office of revenue (fisco) and the mayor of Palermo, had been solved and clarified, through the counsels of several ‘illustrious’ judges, one of whom was Andrea Muscarà.  The consigli are compiled in Consilia diversorum Siculorum super privilegio Felicis. Urbis Panormi quod Fiscus non possit principaliter agere contra cives cum addictionibus D. Francesco. Baronii.Panormi. 1656. 

The following quote is from pages 87-88: 

Francesco Baronio avvocato e magistrato dava in luce vari estesi trattati sulle questioni concernenti la età minore , le cause e gli effetti della inimicizia, e sulle citazioai, e sulle varie parti del corpo, per cui occorrono talvolta quistioni giuridiche, civili e penali.
Previde casi innumerevoli per risolvere i dubbi legali secondo le dottrine allora più comuni, proponendo alquante sue nuove opinioni, sempre però con soverchia minuzia e prolissità *. Furono ancora da lui scritte molte addizioni Ai consigli dettati da vari giureconsulti sul privilegio municipale che vietava al fìsco di procedere di ufficio e come parte principale contro i Palermitani. Le gravi contestazioni tra il fisco e il sindaco di Palermo, surte per lo esercizio di quel privilegio erano state dilucidate con alquanti speciali consigli dagl'illustri Ottavio Corsetto e Pietro suo figlio, sopraindicati, da Tobia Benfari, da Giuseppe Paraci da Termini e dal suo figlio Lorenzo, da Andrea Muscarà, da Vespasiano Spucches **. In separato volume Nicola Morso palermitano volle pure dilucidare le quistìoni relative a quel privilegio Ippolito Maia avvocato e poi sacerdote, scrisse in età giovanile le sue consultazioni, e poscia diede in luce un volume di molle addizioni.”

* De Citatione Vol. 3, Pal. 1645 a 1654 – Addictiones Pal 1654
De Inimicitia eiusque causis, et effectibus Palermo 1655.—Effectus CUIl fino a pagina 264, seguono da pagina 265 a 280 Allegationes di Emanuele Muscarà Longombardo , Pensabeno,  Berruso , Magretti, tutte brevissime e delle quali fa menzione nel trattato. — Raemationes ad tertium librumt de citatione et ad tractatum de effectibus inimicitiae. Palermo 1656. Trovasi nello stesso volume da pagina 289 in poi.—De effectibus minoris aetatis circa contractus, ultimas voluntates et spiritualia. Pal. 1641. Il primo pei contratti é estesissimo in pag. 412 in 26 effectus, per le ultime volontà in pag. 42 in tre effetti. intorno alle cose spirituali, siegue sino a pag. 93 in dieci effetti e sieguono additiones novissimae in pag. 31. — De effectibus minoris aetatis circa judicialia. Pal.1658. — De corpore eiusque partibus et membris tractatus. Pal. 1661 I. in 18 tit., II Additiones,

**Consilia diversorum Siculorum super privilegio Fel. Urbis Panormi quod Fiscus non possit principaliter agere contra cives cum addictionibus D. Franc. Baronii. Pal. 1656
Another reference to Andrea is found on pages 89 and 90 of the same volume (Storia della Legislazione… by La Mantia). According to La Mantia, a Paolo Francesco Perramuto a ‘learned’ juris-consult and a Magistrate in Palermo, undertook a laborious comparisons of huge numbers of diverse and opposing opinions rendered by Italian judges. He then compared the opinions of the Sicilian judges with opinions rendered by judges in other nations.  In this work by Perramuto are found two allegations and the opinions given by Giuseppe Faraci and Andrea Muscarà from Librizzi

 Quote: ” Paolo Francesco Perramuto dotto giureconsulto da Caltagirone e magistrato in Palermo, imprese una laboriosa comparazione di infinite contrarie opinioni di commentatori e di giudicati, che riusciva comoda per la indicazione delle opposte dottrine nella citazione delle decisioni della rota romana e delle opinioni degli scrittori legali di varie nazioni, e di taluni sicoli. Trovansi in quell'opera due allegazioni e consigli del termitano Giuseppe Faraci e di Andrea Muscarà di Li brizzi”. ***

 ***La Mantia identifies the Faraci and Muscarà work in a footnote. ”Conflictus Jureconsultorum inter sese discrepantium. Palermo 1662 a1671, volume 5 in tre parti  in cui si accennano le varie opinion, senza esprimerle, additando i luoghi in cui ciascuna Declaratur, Examinatur, Impugnatur ecc.  Le allegazioni di Muscarà e Faraci sono nel v- II, p. 2, pag. 164”  

Additional references to Andrea are found in “Nomenclator literarius recentiorio theologiae Catholicae theologos exhibens”, Hugo Hurter. Vol. 2, Section VI, Theologia Practica, pags. 253-254:

“Praeter hos alii quaestiones singulares tractarunt. Ita. In Italia Andreas Muscarà  siculus juris utriusque doctor (morto 11. Nov. 1666) in lucem emisit defensionem immunitatis ecclesiasticae, Panormi 1647 in f. ----“  

 Translation into Italian: “Oltre costoro, altri hanno trattato argomenti particolari.  Cosi in Italia il siciliano Andrea Muscarà, dottore in diritto publico ed in diritto ecclesiastico, ha messo in luce la difesa dell’immunita ecclesiastica, in Palermo nel 1647...

English translation: In addition to the fore-named, others have dealt with these specific arguments (subjects). In Italy, for example, the Sicilian Andrea Muscarà, doctor in civil and ecclesiastic law, has upheld the defense of ecclesiastic immunity, Palermo 1647…
In the same book, Andrea is listed several times in Tables that name jurists who specialized in Theological matters.
Andrea was part of the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Sicily under the rule of Filippo IV of Spain (Filippo II of Sicilia and Napoli) 1621-1665, and of Carlo II of Spain (Carlo III of Sicilia and Carlo V of Napoli) 1665-1700.

Andrea is included in the Nobiliario Di Sicilia by Dott. A. Mango di CasalgerardoAlong with Andrea other Muscarà people, who appertained to the same Librizzi family, are mentioned in the ‘Nobiliario’. The “Nobiliario” can be found on the following site of the internet:à.htm

Dott. A. Mango di Casalgerardo
da Muscarà a Muzio
“Un Andrea fu giudice della Gran Corte del Regno negli anni 1654-55-56 e 57, 1663; governatore della Tavola di Palermo nel 1711 e del Monte di Pietà della stessa città nel 1713; un Pietro fu senatore di Palermo nel 1688-89 e consigliere della nobile compagnia dei Bianchi di detta città negli anni 1686-87 e 1690-91.
Non sappiamo se sia appartenuto a questa stessa famiglia quel Giuseppe, dottore in leggi, che fu giudice capitaniale di Marsala nel 1812-13.”

The ‘Nobiliario’ confirms that Andrea was Judge of the Gran Corte del Regno.  We also are told that a different Andrea Muscarà from Librizzi was Governatore della Tavola di Palermo in 1711, and later in 1713 he was Governatore del Monte di Pietà.  Another Muscarà from Librizzi, whose first name was Pietro, was senator of Palermo in 1688-89, and consigliere of the Palermo Nobile Compagnia dei Bianchi in 1686-87 and 1690-1691.
The above institutions are interesting in themselves and I will write about them in a future essay.

 The Muscarà Stemma (Coat of Arms/Family Crest) can be found in the Church of Maria Santissima della Catena in Librizzi. The name of Don Andrea Muscarà is carved within the Stemma. The Stemma is located right above a niche where the famous and beautiful Gagini statue of the Madonna resides. On either side of the niche is the date 1664, 16 is on the left hand side and 64 on the right hand side.  The Stemma consists of a lamb with the paws and tail of a lion. In one of the paws the lamb is holding a Chalice. Above the Chalice there is an eight point star.  The letters within the Stemma are SPE F, they might stand for Speranza e Fede (Hope and Faith), or they could be part of his titles.  I think that the symbols of the lion and the lamb are based on the Bible, Revelations 5.  The Stemma has a crown with seven visible points.  In heraldry the seven visible points indicate the title of Barone.  Dario de Judicibus in his “L’Araldica Italiana” states that  “con la cimatura di dodici perle (sette visibili), collocate sul margine del cerchio o sostenute da altrettante punte” indicate the title of Barone.

 My research indicates that the surname Muscarà is derived from the Greek word Moschari (Muskarion/Muscarion), it means “colui che possiede vitelli”, “he who owns calves”.  The Greek word for vitello (calf) is Moskos.
The words Muscarion and Moskos are found in the ancient Greek Bible when referring to the “calf”, that was sacrificed at the altar.

The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future. 

  (Herbert Spencer)

Palazzo Normanno in Palermo

Residence of the Spanish Kings and Viceroys