So what do the rosary, the crucifix and the devotional image of the Madonna tell us about the faith of the Baldizzi family? What did the religious objects in the apartment mean within Baldizzi family life?
|The Baldizzis' rosary.|
Photo by mister paul larosa, on Flickr.
They also would have known (more than most contemporary Catholics perhaps) that there were three different story lines for the rosary, depending on the church season or on the desires and needs of the person or persons praying the rosary.
|Photo by Daniel Molina|
Catholics were encouraged actively to see themselves as being present in these moments, making the rosary a powerful imaginative exercise and a medium for men and women to express and reflect on their own joys and sorrows and those of their families.
Rosaries were most often given as gifts: just as in some cultures, people do not fill their own wine glasses at dinner, so it was not so common for Catholics simply to acquire rosaries for themselves. The rosary in the Baldizzi apartment might have come from one of the children’s godparents—the godmother who lived across the street from Vincent’s?—from one their First Communion sponsors, from grandparents or other relatives. It may have made the journey from Italy to the Lower East Side in Signor Baldizzi’s pockets, serving in this case as a visible link to the old country.
Rosaries were said privately or in groups. The Baldizzis would have brought the rosary with them to Mass on Sundays, to funerals—it was common for a rosary to be said on the last night of a wake in front of the open coffin by all the people present together—and to the novenas that Josephine remembers going to with her mother. The rosary in the Baldizzi apartment in this way embodied the family’s stories and memories and the bonds of kin and neighbors so important to them, a material, blessed, and tactile counterpart to Josephine’s memories and stories.
[Part V will be posted tomorrow.]