Thursday, June 17, 2010

Giusvalla godparents …. through the generations

Like many others from an Italian-American household, I grew up in a family where godparents were a very important part of our lives, we were all proud of our godparents and family conversations often included godparent acknowledgements such as “Aunt So-and-So was such a special lady. She was my godmother you know ….” My godparents were my Uncle Frank and my Aunt Marina (both siblings of my father). Aunt Marina has always referred to me as her “Nephew-Godson,” growing up I had a special bond with her because she is my godmother.

The selection of the godparents was always a serious and deliberate matter, whom do we deem most worthy to bequeath the spiritual well-being of our children? The christening day was a time of great celebration and tradition. In my family, it has become a great honor to pass down the christening gown that has now been worn by grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. On the day of my son's christening, his godfather (my cousin Enzo) resurrected the old Giusvalla tradition of the father's and godfather's shave (with the obligatory straight razor). It was Enzo's grandfather Bastianèn who was responsible for performing this rite on all the new fathers and godfathers in Giusvalla. We were proud to carry this tradition into the next generation.

Our godparents can perhaps be considered our “spiritual” ancestors, certainly they played an important role in our families throughout the generations. In my genealogical research, whenever possible I always try to document the names of the godparents. This is accomplished by consulting ecclesiastical records, where godparents’ names are listed (on the baptismal acts, for example). Following is my “Godparent Tree,” showing the godparents for several generations of my direct paternal family line.

My Son
Godfather: Cousin Enzo
Godmother: Aunt Angela
Me (Frank)
Godfather: Frank Rosaio
Godmother: Marina Rosaio
My father (Michael)
Godfather: Ernest Camoirano
Godmother: Gloria (Faenza) Malatesta
My grandfather (Frank)
Godfather: Giuseppe Camoirano
Godmother: Elsie Perrone
My great-grandfather (Francesco)
Godfather: Gaspare Perrone
Godmother: Maria Teresa Manzino
My great-great grandfather (Giacomo Antonio)
Godfather: Giacomo Beltrame
Godmother: Gioanna (Verdino) Baccino
My gr-gr-gr grandfather (Gioanni Antonio)
Godfather: Giovanni Antonio Bonifacino
Godmother: Angela (wife of Giovanni Antonio Bonifacino)

In the picture: Christening Day, May 16, 1974, with godparents Uncle Frank & Aunt Marina

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