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PAGE 2 POST-GAZE'n'E, NOVEMBER 18, 2016 by Prof. Edmund Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more in teresting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. AT HOME IN OLD ROME, THE INSULA OR TENEMENT HOUSE The Insula or Tenement House The development of the Roman Insula or Tenement House seems to have been brought about by the same economic factors that plague our tenement houses of today; low income, high land cost, and high population density. There were not very many families that were able to afford the lux- ury of a "domus" or one-family home. Most people lived in flats in huge tenement blocks. The flats were called "cenecula" and the tenement blocks were called "insula." There were shops on the ground level and four or five floors of tenants above. Some of the shopkeepers maintained luxurious ground floor apart- ments behind or adjacent to their shops. The name "insula" seems to have been derived from "insula- nus" or island, as these struc- tures were built to stand aione, like an island surrounded by a sea of streets, and were seldom connected to other buildings. In the year 350 A.D., there were more than forty thou- sand of these tenement houses in Rome. They were built for speculation with the idea of gen- erating rental income. The rent was called "pensio" and was quite high even for the worst of the flats or rooms. The rental agents were called "insularii" or "procuratores insularum." They seldom lived on the premises. Shopkeepers who could not afford the luxury of a ground floor apartment often rented living space in the story directly above their shops. Sometimes the workers in the shop rented rooms on the upper floors where they cooked, ate and slept in a very small space. During the time of the emPire, the population of Rome increased faster than the supply of living spaces. Rents soared and build- ings deteriorated because of little or no maintenance. Many families were forced to sublet extra rooms to help pay the rent. The floors of the cenecula were often covered with beauti- ful mosaics and the walls were frescoed, but this is where it ended. There were none of the simple conveniences of today; no lighting, no heating system, no sinks, toilets or baths as we know them. Family liv- ing spaces were overcrowded and this contributed to the general decline in cleanliness and health. Minor family quar- rels quickly became commu- nity concerns. Many of these speculative structures were so poorly and speedily built that a' collapse was not uncommon. The stability of the structures was further aggravated by the floods from the Tiber. People often spoke of the good fortune of the homeless beggars who had nothing to fear from fire or falling houses. The original construction of these "Roman rat-traps" pro- vided for large window openings to admit light and air. Mica or glass was not available in earlier times, so closed shutters kept out the heat, light, and fresh air during the summer months. Cloth or animal skins helped to keep out the rain, cold, light, and fresh air during the winter months. No furnaces or central heating systems were available, so the only way to prevent being seriously affected by the cold was to use portable braziers and risk the resulting fumes or fire hazard. Additional risks were generated by the use of torches or lamps for lighting. Local fire brigades, fire-fight- ing night watchmen or "vigiles," helped but there was just no immediate solution. Water pressure was not available to bring water to the upper floors and emergency fire pails were never kept filled as required by law. A small fire usually spread (Continued on Page 10) Friends of the Itafian Cultural Center of Announce 2016 Thomas M. Menino Awards Boston Symphony Youth Orchestras Director Federico Cortese and Distinguished MIT Professor Silvio Micali to be Honored at Italianissimo.t Gala at Eataly Boston Friends of the Italian Cul- tural Center of Bostbn, Inc. (FICCB) today announced the recipients of the 2016 Thomas M. Menino awards. Federico Cortese, Music Director for the Boston Youth Symphony Or- chestras, and Silvio Micali, MIT Ford Professor of Engineering, will receive their recognition on Saturday, November 19a, at Italianissimo!, FICCB's an- nual event that celebrates New England's rich Italian-American culture. FICCB awards the Thomas M. Menino Award to members of Boston's Italian-American community who have made out- standing contributions towards the preservation and promotion of Italian heritage and culture. FICCB was founded in Decem- ber 2012 to create a novel Ital- ian cultural center, preserve Boston's rich Italian heritage, and forge a strong, united com- munity of italophiles. "The individuals that we hon- or this year in the Menino Award exemplify those who contribute to the mission of FICCB," said Anthony Pangaro, Chairman of FICCB. "Through their good works, they are contributors to the rich Italian heritage of the City of Boston." This year's Thomas M. Me- nino Award recipients have significantly enhanced Boston's artistic and scientific communi- ties. Federico Cortese has been the Music Director of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras for nearly 20 years and is also the Music Director of the Harvard- Radcliffe Orchestra at Harvard University. He has conducted orchestras from Italy to Austra- lia and studied composition and conducting at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Silvio Micali has been on the faculty at MIT since 1983. Origi- nally from Sicily, he has been widely recognized for his con- tributions to computer science. He is the recipient of the A.M. Turing Award for transformative work that laid the complexity- theoretic foundations for the science of cryptography, and in the process pioneered new methods for efficient verifica- tion of mathematical proofs in complexity theory. The Thomas M. Menino Award was named after former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to honor his contributions to the city of Boston as a prominent Italian-American. Angela Me- nino, wife of the late Boston Mayor, will attend Italianissimol and participate in the awards ceremony. To learn more about this year's Italianissimol event, and a special pre-opening re- ception at Eataly Boston, visit http : / / ficeb, o rg/ . About FICCB Friends of the Italian Cultural Center of Boston, (FICCB) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organiza- tion founded in 2012 to promote Italian identity, language and culture and preserve our rich Italian heritage. FICCB's mis- sion ranges from supporting the. teaching of the Italian language to sponsoring public lectures, concerts and art exhibits; from showcasing Italian entrepreneur- ship, innovation, design and technology to celebrating Italian food and folklore; from provid- ing services to the Italian and Italian-American communities to organizing events that build bridges with the Greater Boston and New England communities. Saint Gerard Majella (Patron Saint of Expectant Mothers) St. Gerard Majella was born to poor parents in 1726 in Muro, Italy, to a family of seven. His father passed away when he was twelve, forcing Gerard to grow up fast. Shortly after his father's death, his mother sent him away to live with his uncle and learn to become a tailor like his father. After a few years of working as a sewing apprentice, Majella took on a job with the local Bishop of Lacedonia as a helper. Once Majella began earning money as a journeyman at the age of 21, he divided his earn- ings with his mother, the poor of Muro, and the rest in offerings for the poor souls. As the days passed, Majella's ascetic life caused him to grow pale and thin, often fasting and in prayer at a nearby Cathedral. He applied to the Capuchin monastery at Muro twice, but was turned down both times because of his health. He was not deemed well enough for such a strenuous life. How- ever, Majella did not give up. In 1749, at the age of 23, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as Redemptorists, and just three by Bennett Molinari and Richard Molinari years later became a professed lay brother. During his life, MajeUa was very close to the peasants and other outsiders who lived in the Neapolitan countryside. In his work with the Redemptorist community, he was at different times gardener, sacristan, tailor, porter, cook, carpenter, and clerk of works on the new buildings at Caposele. However, because of his great piety and wisdom, and his gift of reading consciences, he was permitted to counsel communities of religious women. Majella was often called on by the poor and the sick. He was there to "do the Will of God." Along with his miracles affected through prayers for woman in labor, Majella's last recorded miracle is one that many credit toward his becoming the patron of expectant mothers. Shortly before his death, Majella encountered a young girl. He had dropped his handkerchief and she attempted to return it, only to be told to keep it. Majella told her she "may need it someday." Years after MajeUa's passing, the young girl married. She unexpectedly went into labor and was on the verge of losing her baby. She called for Brother Majella's handkerchief to be applied to her. Almost immediately, her pain abated and she proceeded to give birth to a healthy child. Majella's last will consisted of a small note on the door of his cell saying, "Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills." He died on October 16, 1755, in Caposele, Campania, of tuberculosis at age 29. Saint Gerard Majella was canonized on December 11, 1904, by Pope Pius X. His Feast Day is October 16% Saint Gerard Majella is the Patron of Exl ectant Mothers. f ALBANO F. PONTE, CEP Financial and Estate Planning Email afponte @ msn.com Phone 617-320-0022 MICHAEL F. NOBILE, CPCU mnobile @ nobileinsu rance .corn BOSTON 30 Prince Street Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-6766 Fax (617) 52.3-0078 MEDFORD 39 Salem Street Medford, MA 02155 (781) 395-4200 Fax (781) 391-8493 J WWW.BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM