The Things We Do: Ways of the Holy Benedetta

"A Tradition as Old as the Italian Countryside Itself, at Once Ancient and Modern . . . . ."

Called Benedicaria, Medicina Popolare, Benedicazione, Benedica, and many other names by its practitioners and detractors alike, the art of folk healing and magic is as ancient as the first people to set foot on Italian soil, while at the same time as contemporary as any of us living here and now. Shaped by its encounters with the Etruscan, Roman, Catholic, and Feudal civilizations of the Old World, and surviving immense persecution at the hands of Irish and German clergymen in the New, this form of popular belief and spirituality has survived tremendous opposition, only now to find itself slowly fading away as a result of the programs of assimilation, political correctness, and post-Vatican II aggiornamento being force-fed to our young.

Bringing to the table his education and experience as a Traditional Catholic priest and an Italian-American, Father Taumaturgo explores the subject of Benedicaria from angles not known or even knowable to Leland or any of the other Victorian-era British and American authors to tackle the subject, and also discusses the threat to survival which have arisen as a result of the American Church's policies of forced assimilation. Certainly a must-read for parents, children, and anyone else who wishes to discover this fascinating area of Italian and Italian-American folk medicine and spirituality.

Finally there has been a book written about Italian folk magic and religion that explores my practices. UNFORTUNATELY this book is no longer in print and extremely rare. Too bad because it's a great read and if you're Italian and want to recapture the things your nonna did with respect to folk religion, this would have been the perfect place to start. Fr. Agostino explains who we are and why we do the things we do. I was one of his many consultants (and I'm mentioned in his book!) so I can assure you it stays true to the practice. Perhaps one day it will be available once again on

The Things We Do: Ways of the Holy Benedetta is entirely about Italian folk magic and healing practices that are not at odds with Roman Catholic doctrine. As far as the other side of the coin is concerned, stregoneria (witchcraft), a practicing Benedetta will tell you that you have to know the dark arts well in order to be able to diagnose and heal those afflicted by it. Just like a physician needs to know everything about both the disease process and health. Then again, there's always Rue's Kitchen as a balanced resource -and who knows, I might just one day write that book. wink

Rue on KFNX

Original air date: November 16, 2005

I received quite a bit of mail from people who didn't get to listen to Annee Jawor interview me on her call-in radio show, A Scent of an Angel, on 1100 KFNX AM out of Phoenix, Arizona. Here is just my segment for your listening pleasure. Thank you all who left comments here and emailed me directly asking if I was going to post this. Feel free to leave comments.

I can take it. :)

Rue's Interview