From social media, I have learned that many Italian-American homes are filled with religious icons—statues of the Blessed Mother, pictures of the pope, crucifixes, other statues and more. This is obviously for those Italians who are Roman Catholics.
I am not sure how I would have felt about having a picture of Pope John Paul II hanging on a wall in our house.
My grandmother had a picture of the Pope in her home when I was little. He was wildly popular as a Catholic leader.
Would a statue of Mary have looked OK under my posters from Tiger Beat of Kirk Cameron and Tom Cruise?
When I think about my childhood home, I don’t recall there being much Catholic paraphernalia displayed in the home. I am pretty sure there was a crucifix or two but nothing else that my memory recalls. We all had a Bible in our bedrooms. And we each had our own set of Rosary beads.
Can I still consider my self Italian-American?
Is my card going to be revoked?
In our house now, we have a crucifix and a three-inch statue of St. Jude, patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. And we each have our own Rosary beads.
He used to sit atop my stove, and there have been times when I tried a new recipe that I blasphemously thought it was the right place for him.
In Hammonton, I am used to seeing statues of the Blessed Mother. She is often in the yard of a Hammonton home or maybe she is placed in a window the night before a big event.
My aunt had a Blessed Mother statue in her yard when I was a kid.
I have even had friends who have buried a St. Joseph statue in their yard in hopes of selling their homes quicker. In the current housing market, such a practice is not needed in my opinion.
And I don’t think it is a good idea to bury something that should be venerated. Maybe pray to St. Joseph instead of placing him upside down in your yard?
Speaking of praying, it wasn’t until I moved to Hammonton that I learned about praying to Saint Anthony when you lose something.
There are several versions of a prayer to say to help you find the missing item. Just Google it.
This would have been good information to know as a teenager when I often misplaced my keys or homework.
I like the idea of showing your faith in such an obvious way in your home. And I am more surprised than ever that we didn’t have a lot in our home growing up.
And since I was confused, I called my mom.
She said it was because she felt it was something her parents’ generation did. I think my question surprised her. It’s good to know I can still do that at my age.
Do you have a story about growing up Italian, either in Hammonton or anywhere else? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.