Folk Object: Nunzio Figure


The mother of my informant is from Italy, from the region of Abruzzi, and she owned a figure of a saint named “Saint Nunzio”. He’s a figure who comes from the same region. He was also a blacksmith, and a lot of the people there find kinship with him for being a craftsman like the rest of them. The figure is sort of a good luck charm that, according to the informant, her mother projected “everything nice” onto, and which she would take with her on travels. Eventually the informant’s mother passed Nunzio down to my my informant, who she instructed to take him with her wherever she goes, as he would watch over her. To this day, my informant still takes Nunzio with her on vacations and long trips.


Nunzio appears to be a religious piece of folklore of specifically Catholic nature. This is not too surprising, considering how much of a heavy role Catholicism and religion play into Italian culture. This one in particular is interesting, as while images of saints are often used to remember a saint’s good deeds, it is much rarer to have them be an outright good luck charm for the holder. This may be partially because of the importance of Nunzio to the region, as having an image of someone who would be considered “kin” is especially important from the perspective of someone traveling. If you have someone from your home with you, you no longer feel far from home. It should also be noted that Nunzio wasn’t canonized until 2018- far before the informant’s mother would have recieved the figure. This would make him a folk saint- another interesting layer of folklore that demonstrates how one can be exalted for their deeds and general help by fellow Catholics without being officially canonized by the church.