Constantino Brumidi, the artist of our nation’s Capitol who has been compared to Michelangelo, was an Italian immigrant, who like so many others, fell in love with America and never left. Brumidi and his artistic legacy were recently remembered in Washington, D.C. when Mayor Vincent Gray issued a proclamation declaring February 19, as Constantino Brumidi Day.
Gray noted in particular that Brumidi spent the last 25 years of his life beautifying the Capitol by painting most notably the “Apotheosis of Washington” in the canopy of the Rotunda. Brumidi also painted The President’s Room and painted the first tribute to an African American in the Capitol when he placed Crispus Attucks in the center of his painting of the Boston Massacre.
A memorial mass was held at Holy Rosary Church, followed by a ceremony at the Glenwood Cemetery where Brumidi is buried. Fr. Lydio Tomasi c.s., Pastor of Holy Rosary, blessed Brumidi’s grave. The marker reads: “My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the Capitol of the one country in which there is liberty.”
Joe Grano, Chair of the Constantino Brumidi Society organized the event and was supported by other local Italian American organizations and the Embassy of Italy, represented by Michele Giacalone. Leaders of the Lido Civic Club, the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society, the Italian Cultural Society, and the Rhodes Tavern-DC Heritage Society laid floral wreaths and paid homage to a man, who in 2008 was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Brumidi’s gold medal has been cast, but no date has yet been announced for a ceremony to officially present the medal.
On the occasion of Constantino Brumidi Day, Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, said, “Brumidi embodies what in 1961 then-U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy called ‘Italian experience,’ masterfully capturing the essence of the strong ties between Italy and the United States.”