Dear Readers,
May has many Italian connections.
Mother’s Day was Sunday, May 12th this year and since St. Monica, mother of the late blooming “Saint” Augustine is also the patroness of wives and mothers, I will share some info on St. Monica with you.
 Monica was born in 322 AD into a Christian family in Tagaste, in North Africa. Her parents selected a husband for her, a pagan named Patricius, who was a bad-temperated man and unfaithful to her. To add insult to injury, her mother-in-law, who taunted her and told lies about her, lived with them. Monica ignored the indignities they heaped on her, and practiced good works instead, giving to the poor and helping the sick while still caring for her family.


 St. Monica patron Saint of wives and mothers

 St. Monica patron Saint of wives and mothers

Monica and Patricius had three children. The eldest son, although a talented scholar, was source of constant worry for Monica. She prayed constantly that he and her husband would someday join her in worship. Eventually, her faith and kindness were partially rewarded: her husband and his mother converted to Christianity. But Monica’s son seemed hopeless. He ran away from school, returned to the house and insulted Monica. She forced him out, but took him back after a voice told her “your son is with you”, which she thought meant with her in the faith. Still he strayed. He took a mistress, had a son, and ignored his mother’s protests.
     Monica sought the help of her local bishop, who encouraged her, “It is not possible the son of so many tears should perish”. Eventually, Monica turned to Bishop Ambrose in Italy, who brought her son to God by appealing to his intelligence instead of his emotions. Monica’s goal came to pass, in ways she didn’t even foresee. Her son became so strongly drawn to the faith that he was eventually canonized – as St. Augustine, one of the church’s greatest teachers and philosopher.
A Toast
We have toasted our sweethearts,
Our friend and our wives,
We have toasted each other
Wishing all merry lives;
Don’t frown when I tell you
This toast beats all others
Lets drink one more toast, boys-
A toast to – “Our Mothers.”

-Author unknown
History of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is a modern, American intention created by a West Virginia schoolteacher whose devotion to her own mother was augmented by what she saw as the ill treatment of many elders by their children. When Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905 she petitioned ministers, businessmen and Congressmen to support a national day honoring mothers. Three years later, West Virginia became the first state to proclaim a national day of observance, and within a year, the rest of the nation followed suit. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

A Mother’s Day vocabulary
Your mother may also be or have been:
a sister – una sorella
a grandmother – una nonna

a niece – una nipote 

a daughter – una figlia

a cousin – una cugina
an aunt – una zia
a wife – una moglie

a bride – una sposa

a woman – una donna

a girl –  una ragazza
 Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

 Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Cleopatra, the film that nearly bankrupted 20th Century fox Studios in 1963 and turned its star Elizabeth Taylor and her Rocky romance with co-star, Richard Burton (Mark Antony) into a worldwide media obsession celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Although the film was filmed in Rome, it did not start out that way. It turns out that Elizabeth Taylor, finally free from her longterm MGM contract was now able to accept offers from other studios.

 When 20th Century Fox came calling with “Cleopatra”, the era’s reigning box-office queen decided she didn’t want to make Cleopatra, so she jokingly asked for $1 million, an unprecedented sum for one movie. “If someone’s dumb enough to pay me a million dollars for a picture, I’m not dumb enough to turn it down”, she quipped, stunned that her terms had been accepted. For tax purposes, she insisted the film be made overseas. England’s Pinewood facilities were selected. Peter Finch was signed for Julius Caesar, and Stephen Boyd for Mark Antony.
Weather problems and most significantly, Taylor’s variedillness delayed shooting.
     A huge amount of money had been invested in building sets, but ultimately, everything was scrapped and productions shifted to Cinecittà Studios, just outside Rome. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was the new director, Rex Harrison was now Caesar, and Burton was signed for Antony. The delays and revised shooting schedule increased Taylor’s fee and she would ultimately earn $ 7,000,000.
Rex Harrison was superb, as the weary and wary conqueror Caesar, mired in an Egyptian civil war because Rome needs the treasures of the Nile. Taylor effectively conveys Cleopatra’s intelligence, wit, and authority, while suggesting that she was willing to use her jaw-dropping beauty for Egypt’s benefit. Her entrance into Rome was among the most lavish scenes ever filmed.
    Mother’s Day was bleak for Liz that year because the Papacy denounced Taylor for “erotic vagrancy” and suggested she lost custody of her children. She was vilified by members of the U.S. Congress, some of whom wanted to revoke her passport.
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