Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Going to mass in San Salvatore
Sunday, March 11
Last year we went to the Valdesian church in Lucca, but today I go to the Catholic church here in San Salvatore. I have decided to give this church a try for several reasons, the first being that it is so much more convenient. It requires a short bike ride instead of a bike ride, train trip to Lucca and another bike ride.
A second reason is more sentimental. This is likely the church attended by my grandparents, and it is probably where they were married. I don’t know this for certain, but it is the only church in San Salvatore and it is right across the street from where Nonno lived, along with his parents Pietro and Maria and brothers Enrico and Eugenio. For Nonna, it would have required a 20-minute walk, but it still would have been the closest church.
A third reason, and this may be wishful thinking, given that I am only here for a short time, is that it will make me more a part of the local community. People who live in San Salvatore have had the same friends since childhood, and though they are not unfriendly, they are not accustomed to inviting stray American strangers into their homes. Seeing me in church for a few Sundays probably won’t make a real difference, but it can’t hurt. I don’t have high expectations on this front, but the reasons of convenience and sentiment are enough for me anyway.
I arrive at 10:59 a.m. and take a seat on the side near the back. Mass begins in one minute and there are only about 30 people present. However, within the next 10 minutes, another 15 have entered. I estimate there are 25 women, 15 men and five children. The walls are adorned with six frescoes of brilliant colors. The style looks traditional in the manner of old churches here, with scenes from the Bible, but I can’t guess how old they are. Did my grandparents gaze at these each Sunday? The vibrancy of the colors makes me wonder if they have not perhaps been created within the last 100 years. My grandparents married in 1908 and left Italy in 1909, though Nonna returned for a visit in 1913. I will have to find out when these frescoes were done.
Mass is not greatly different than it was when I grew up in America. A small choral group sings one song to begin, and there are scripture readings by a lay person and the priest. A printed single-fold bulletin contains commentaries on today’s scriptures and lets us know what to say during the responsive readings. The sermon consists of the priest reading for 10 minutes from a church publication and then 10 minutes of his own thoughts on the same topic, which is Jesus upsetting the stalls of the money changers and vendors in the temple.
I hang around for a few minutes afterwards to snap a few photos. I wouldn’t mind going up to meet the priest and asking him about the frescoes, but he has disappeared into the side vestibule. I leave without talking to anyone, but I will try again in the weeks to come.