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Celebrating today's feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Addolorata, brought me back to the church of my Italian great–grandmother, Donna Emma Onoratelli, in Sepicciano (Campania). I have had the privilege of celebrating Holy Mass there on numerous occasions. My dear cousins Carlo de Lellis, his wife Nora, and their children Ettore and Sissi now live in the palazzo Onoratelli just a few steps from the church. Whenever I visit them, they insist that I consider it my home too.

The church was built in 1742 as a private family chapel by my forbear the Marchese Don Clemente Onoratelli in fulfillment of a vow made to Saint Michael the Archangel. It contains an extraordinarily expressive statue of the Sorrowful Mother commissioned by the family. The ladies of the family considered it an honour to provide the Madonna with an exquisite black dress, mourning veil, and jewelry. In her hand she holds a delicate white handkerchief edged in lace. Unfortunately, I do not have a photograph of the statue. There are still many like it throughout the former Kingdom of Naples, in spite of the fact that unscrupulous antique dealers prize them as collection pieces!

From my father's side of the family, the Gilbrides from County Leitrim, I inherited a splendid little Irish prayerbook printed in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, in 1860. It contains A Devout Exercise in Honour of the Sorrowful Heart of Mary in the form of short meditations on the Seven Sorrows, a Prayer to the Blessed Virgin in her Desolation, and A Short Method of saying the Rosary of the Dolours of the B.V.M.

There is evidence of a tradition of devotion to the Mother of Sorrows on both sides of the family tree. I pray that it may continue from generation to generation. "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain salvation upon you" (Hos 10:12).


So fascinating! What amazing family history! You are Irish and Neapolitan, Father Mark, O.Cist.! What a combination! I am Irish and Spanish (and Scottish.)

Your cousins sound like lovely gracious people.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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