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August 3, 2012     Post-Gazette
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Page 6 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 3, 2012 Dedication of Saint Mary Major (Our Lady of the Snow) by Bennett Molinari and Richard Molinari Many years ago, while in Rome, we visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. We were staying at a hotel just down the street, after unpacking we immediately began a walk- ing tour of our section of the city and within an hour of touring we found ourselves walking into the great church. Being the first of the ancient Roman churches we visited, it made an enormous impression on us; there is nothing in the States that can match the antiquity of this church, its sheer size and artistry amazed us. The feast commemorating the Dedication of Santa Maria Maggiore built by Pope Liberius (352-366) is celebrated on August 5 th.. It is sometimes called the Liberian Basilica because of its connection with Pope Liberius. According to leg- end, during the pontificate of Liberius, a Roman patrician whose name was John and his wife, who were childless vowed to donate their posses- sions to Our Lady. They prayed for a sign that would indicate the manner of their donation The legend contin- ues, on August 5, during the night, snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline Hill and, in obedience to a vi- sion, which they had the same night, they endowed a basilica, in honor,o'f Our, Lady, on the spot, which was covered with snow. It is from this legend that the second name of the Basilica, Saint Mary of the Snow is derived. The present building, how- ever, dates from the time of Pope Sixtus Ill, (432 to 440) who restored and enlarged the original structure and dedicated it to Our Lady. From that time on it was known as "Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore." The present facade placed on the original core building of the Basilica was added in 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV. The Marian Basilica is in dignity and antiquity the first church in Rome among those dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Preserved in the Basilica is the holy crib of Bethlehem. Saint Mary Major is one of four patriar- chal churches in which the Pope officiates on certain occasions and which an altar is set aside only for him; Saint Peter's, Saint John Lateran and Saint Paul Outside the Walls 'being the others. Originally the feast was celebrated only at Santa Maria Maggiore; in the four- teenth century it was ex- tended to all the churches of Rome and finally it was made a universal feast by Pope Pius V. Kiwanis Club David J. Saliba Attorney at Law Mental Capacity to Sign an Agreement FRANCES M. SPARROW vs. DAVID D. DEMONICO & anotherh I Susan A. Demonico SJC- 10868 SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS 461 Mass. 322; 960 N. E. 2d 296 September 7, 2011, Argued * January 13, 2012, Decided A family dispute over own- ership of what had been the family home in Woburn prompted Frances M. Spar- row to file a complaint in the Superior Court against her sister, Susan A. Demonico and Susan's husband, David D. Demonico. Prior to trial, the parties resolved their differences by a settlement agreement reached during vo lu nt_ary mediation.. Whe n Sparrow sought an order en- forcing the agreement, a Superior Court judge denied her motion, concluding in essence that, due to mental impairment, Susan lacked the capacity to contract at the time of agreement. Spar- row appealed and after ini- tially vacating the order de- nying enforcement and re- manding the case for find- ings of fact, the Appeals Court reversed the judge's order and remanded the case for entry of an order enforcing the settlement agreement. The parties and the attor- neys who were representing them in the Superior Court proceeding participated in mediation on October 19, 2006. Sparrow contends that the case was settled during this mediation by an agree- ment that the Demonicos would sell the property and pay Sparrow $100,000 from the sale proceeds. When Sparrow sought an order en- forcing the agreement, al- leging that the Demonicos "reneged on their obligations under it," the Demonicos claimed that the agreement SUDOKU was unenforceable because PRESENTED BY Susan had, in their view, experienced a mental break-  j down during the mediation and thus lacked the eapae- ity to authorize settlement. On the date of the sched- uled mediation, Susan drove ValUntaerMatc.n.ar from her home to David's Where uug,nak--:--. residence. From there, David drove them to the lo- cation of the mediation ses- 4 6 5 7 sion because, in David's view, Susan was not capable of driving to the mediation. 5 8 The mediation began at ap- proximately 9 A.M. and ended at 3 P.M. The judge, crediting David's testimony, found: "Susan was having a breakdown that day, accord- ing to David and was slurring her words, although she had not had any alcoholic bever- ages on that day. She be- came less coherent through- out the day, was crying and out of control ... They left the mediation before it was over as Susan could not handle it." The Supreme Judicial Court Said: There was no expert or medical testimony to ex- plain the effect of Susan's experiences or behavior on her ability to understand the agreement, to appreciate what was happening, or to comprehend the reasonable- ness of the settlement terms or the consequences to her of authorizing the settlement. Without such medical evidence, there was no basis to conclude that Susan lacked the capacity to contract. The evidence did not sup- port a conclusiori that, un- der the traditional test for incapacity, Susan was inca- pable of understanding the nature and quality of the transaction, or of grasping its significance. Indeed, based on Susan's testimony, she understood at the time that she was participating in a mediation to discuss settlement of the lawsuit; she was aware that the sub- ject of the mediation was to resolve the dispute regard- ing the family home in Woburn; she participated in the mediation and listened to the arguments of counsel; and she "couldn't believe how things [were] turning out." It is apparent from Susan's testimony that, even if she suffered from a transient mental defect, or "break- down" as the judge con- cluded, she had at least some understanding of the nature of the transaction and was aware of its conse- quences. Under the modern test to establish Susan's in- capacity, the evidence was similarly insufficient. There was no evidence that the settlement agreement was unreasonable, or that a rea- sonably competent person would not have entered into it. Conclusion. Because the evidence does not support a conclusion that Susan lacked the mental capacity to authorize settlement on the day of the mediation, it was error to deny Sparrow's motion to enforce the agree- ment. The order denying the motion to enforce the medi- ated settlement agreement is vacated. The case is re- manded to the Superior Court for entry of an order that the settlement agree- ment be enforced. So ordered. 1 2 4 4 7 2 3 5 2 4 7 4 9 2 3 6 6 9 4 7 5 8 StatcPoint Media Fill in the blank squares in the grid, making sure that every row, column and 3-by-3 box includes all digits 1 through 9. (Solution on Page 12)