By Catherine Tsounis
Italy preserves its Eastern Roman/Byzantine heritage in its culture. “The Romanelli family sponsors a hot air balloon for our town of Acquaviva delle Fonti festival in Bari,” he said.
The festival held the first week in September is in honor of St. Maria of Constantinople, the patron saint” The Patronal Feast of St. Maria of Constantinople takes place September 3rd to seventh. In 1642, the city’s citizens believed the icon of St. Mary saved them from a plague that afflicted the region.
According to legend, the Marian icon, which arrived from Constantinople by sea, was found by two people from Acquaviva. They went to Bari, on a cart pulled by two oxen. They were welcomed by the Lords of Acquaviva.1 Acquaviva delle Fonti owes its name to the aquifer that flows underground. The Cathedral is the heart of the town.2
The Byzantine Empire timeline has the “Fall of Bari” in 1071 as a catastrophe. April 1071 resulted in the surrender of the last important Byzantine stronghold in southern Italy. It brought an end to Byzantine domination on the Italian peninsula. An Adriatic seaport and trading center surpassed only by Venice, Bari commanded a strategic position on the crossroads between western Europe and the Byzantine East. Its well-fortified harbor had always protected it from attack by sea until Guiscard utilized the Norman fleet to blockade the harbour.3
I saw St. Maria of Constantinople in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul when it was a museum. A spiritual impression on the onlooker. The Romanelli family remembers its roots. Paul Romanelli is the CEO of Suffolk Security in Southold, Long Island. His company services year-round and summer residents of the New York Metropolitan area. He is the honoree of the Warrior Ranch Foundation’s 3rd Annual Benefit on Sunday, October 1st at Warrior Ranch in Calverton. Our Byzantine heritage is kept by families like the Romanelli who remember the Festival of St. Maria of Constantinople in Acquaviva delle Fonti.