Carmine Ferraro’s Mother Filomena Napolitano from Nola, Napoli, Campania

Carmine Ferraro’s Mother Filomena Napolitano from Nola, Napoli, Campania


Filomena Napolitano was born in 1845 in Contrada Dell’Arco, Nola, Napoli, Campania to Carmine Napolitano and Maria Michele Sabatino from Sirico, Napoli. Nola is a town situated just outside of Metropolitan Naples between Mt. Vesuvius and the Apennines that is steeped in history and traditions. Her father was a blacksmith, while her mother and grandmothers were all spinners. Spinners spin wool and linen for clothing and weaving, and cotton for lace.


Filomena met and married Angelo Ferraro. They lived in the Montecalvario neighborhood of Naples and had six children together. It is not known at what age Filomena left Nola. Maybe her father moved them to the city of Naples. Maybe she met Angelo Ferraro and his merchant business took them there after he left the army. Filomena and Angelo followed the Italian traditional name pattern of naming their first born son after the father’s father and the second born son after the mother’s father, etc. For females they follow the same pattern. So Filomena and Angelo’s second son was named Carmine. He changed it to Carmen when he became a United States citizen.

Filomena’s father’s name is the source of the name Carmen in the Ferraro descendants today.


“Carminus” = Carmine in Latin from the baptismal extract of Carmine Napolitano, born 1805

Filomena came to the United States on April 28, 1904, in a voyage that took approximately two weeks, crossing with 3 of her daughters to meet Angelo who was still living with their oldest son Antonio on Navy Street in Brooklyn. She sailed in 3rd class on the U.S.S. Lombardia. Carmine Ferraro was on the same ship riding in first class with the males. Angelo sailed on the exact same ship to America in November, 1903. When Filomena and her daughters arrived at the Island, they were detained. It seems Angelo was to pick them up and had been late so they weren’t held very long. Poor elderly great great grandmother and her frightened daughters.


This is the only picture of 2 x great grandmother Filomena that we have.

Filomena and family lived in Brooklyn for couple of years on Havemeyer Street seeing a daughter married to another Italian immigrant. Angelo, Filomena and two of their daughters relocated to Columbus, Ohio to a place that contained the largest Italian community east of New York City at that time. Presumably this is where they could also be close to their second oldest son Carmine. Filomena did return home to Naples in 1912 for a few months of vacation. Grandpa would have known her since he was born in 1909. In 1914 she suffered a stroke and passed away. She is buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Columbus.

Carmine said he was one of six children. The children of Filomena and Angelo in order:

Antonio Ferraro* – m. Elisa Peluso in NYC.

Carmine Ferraro – m. Helen Kirsch in Chicago

Angela Maria – m. Jerry Valerioti in NYC – 3 children, 1 was a NYC police detective

Gelsomina – m. Michael Ciocco in Ohio – at least 1 child who became a biologist

Elena – m. Angelo Scarnecchia in Ohio – 5 children

Giovanna – ?

Giovanna was not on the same ship as her mother and she was just a child on the 1905 census for Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn. She did not move to Ohio and still has not been found. She was deceased by 1932 according to Carmine. The four sons of Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia changed their names to Sargent for their music business. Angela Maria (Mary) Ferraro Valerioti died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.  Her descendants live in New York City today.

Cousin A.F. looked for Antonio for a long time. Because of the number of Antonio Ferraros arriving at Ellis Island, I think she had it narrowed down that he arrived in America around 1899.   In 1906 he married another Campanian immigrant named Elisa Peluso in NYC. They had no children. In 1920 she obtained an Enoch Arden divorce on the grounds of absence. In 1926 the Supreme Court of New York dissolved their marriage. Carmine said that his brother was living in Naples around 1932. There is an unproven tale that Antonio went to live in a monastery in Naples and died there. Since the other tales regarding Angelo Ferraro and his children from this source have been mostly incorrect, I highly doubt this tale. While Carmine and Filomena had close connections to a Franciscan monastery in Montecalvario, there is nothing to prove that Antonio wanted to hide in a monastery and die. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another family…here or in Italy. A man named Antonio Ferraro in NYC or Naples can easily pull a Houdini.

Filomena’s Nola ancestry and the Festa dei Gigli

One of Filomena’s grandfathers (Antonio Napolitano) was a master tailor, while the other was an innkeeper (Giacchino Sabatino). Her father was a blacksmith (Carmine Napolitano) and together they made up three of the traditional eight guilds of Nola that played parts in an important 1600 year old religious tradition.


Filomena’s birthplace Nola is known world-wide for that 1600 year old, month long festival dedicated to St. Paolino called Festa Dei Gigli (Festival of the Lilies). This religious tradition is practiced on a smaller scale by Nolani descendants today in enclaves in New York. One of the American traditions started in 1903 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where Filomena and Angelo resided when they came to America. In fact today, a Brooklyn festival parades down Havemeyer Street, the exact street they lived on from 1905-1906 in a Neapolitan enclave.


Present day Festa dei Gigli di Nola

The Origins of the Festa dei Gigli di Nola

St. Paolino was a bishop of Nola. St. Paolino was real but the legend goes that in the 4th Century when the Vandals from North Africa attacked Nola they took all of the men as slaves and took a child. Bishop Paolino convinced the Vandals to take him instead of the child and saved the child’s life for which the Nolani were grateful. Bishop Paolino was a slave for over a year and had the power to see into the future. This pleased the Vandals and as a reward they freed him and all of the men of Nola also in their captivity. When they returned home on a boat, the people of the town were so happy they greeted San Paolino with lots of lilies. Every year near his feast day of June 22, this happy time is re-enacted in Nola with great festivities for most of the month.

The eight traditional guilds of the town, plus the boat, build a 90 foot high lily made out of wood and decorate it with paper mache type material. Approximately 120 men per guild carry their guild’s lily on their backs from their specified part of parade route that hasn’t changed in over 1000 years to the town square to wait for the final float – the boat, also made out of wood. The giant lilies each carry a band on front. For the traditional times on the route the lilies must be made to dance by the 120 dancing men holding the lilies. The guild order hasn’t changed in over 1000 years either. First to last the Nola guilds are: Greengrocer – Ortolano. Pork butcher – Salumiere. Innkeeper – Bettoliere. Baker – Panettiere. Boat – Barca. Butcher – Beccaio. Shoemaker – Calzolaio. Blacksmith – Fabbro. Tailor – Sarto. One of Filomena’s grandfathers (Giacchino Sabatino) would have been one of the 120 men carrying the second lily for innkeeper. Her father (Carmine) would have been second to last with the smiths and her father’s father (Antonio Napolitano) would have carried the last lily of the tailors. Maybe he was even in its band…

2015 Tailor’s Giglio Entering the Piazza at the 1:30 mark. YouTube video is courtesy of GigliTV.

The lily parade starts at 9 a.m. Usually by noon all of the lilies and the boat are in the town square so they can all dance in unison with the boat. A priest blesses them and St. Paolino’s relics are paraded. After everyone eats and has a nap, more lily dancing and celebrations continue. Each of the guilds is assigned a night to host celebrations around Nola for this festival. St. Paolino isn’t even the patron saint of the town. Nola isn’t on water either. The festival has been nominated to be UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some neighboring towns conduct their own small Festa dei Gigli.

Old Clips of Previous Festa dei Gigli di Nola courtesy of La Voce Del Nolano on YouTube

Some of the lily bearers develop huge lumps like these hunchback looking things on their necks and shoulders. There is definitely no shortage of Festa dei Gigli di Nola parade clips on youtube that were enjoyed by this Mummer’s Parade fan. Filomena had at least one uncle named Paolino. He was her father’s brother. It is a wonder too she wasn’t named Paolina for she was born approximately 40 weeks after the 1844 Festa dei Gigli…

Dear Cousins, Filomena Napolitano’s ancestry is almost done…



5 thoughts on “Carmine Ferraro’s Mother Filomena Napolitano from Nola, Napoli, Campania

  1. Anonymous November 1, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Anna, I think you mean the flu epidemic of 1918, when speaking of Carmine’s sister who died in New York City.


    • AC November 1, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      Ah ha! Thanks for the catch!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s