04 April 2005

The Pope is dead

Rather late to this thread, and I have neither the time nor inclination at present to thoroughly read 300+ posts bickering about if the Pope was the Earthly Incarnate of Good or Evil.

I will also preface this by saying that, though I grew up Catholic, I have no love for the Church, nor for religions in general.


The SO lives within spitting distance of San Pietro. Though neither of us believe in God/Dog/Bob/whathaveyou, Friday night we briefly stopped in Piazza San Pietro during the rosary services. I was struck by the quiet; in a country where 2 or 3 cell phones to a person is not unusual, not once in 30 minutes did I hear some tinny polyphonic tune. And I saw only one person smoking, furtively hiding his lit cig as one hides a joint.

Saturday after work, I once again made my way across town to the SO's place. We had just finished eating dinner when the news of Wojtyla's death arrived via SMS. We quickly grabbed our things and pelted towards San Pietro. Many people were actually leaving the piazza, as yet unaware that the pope had passed on.

We arrived to an unsettling quiet, punctured only by the occasional sob. The silence stretched on; saying that the entire piazza was stunned or shocked would be misleading, if only in the sense that in light of his serious health condition, death was expected. But there it was. An entire piazza of people all with suspiciously bright eyes and ruddy noses, if not with tears rolling down their cheeks. I felt vaguely ghoulish and somehow intrusive as we tiptoed our way further into the piazza.

From a small clearing behind me, a young man in his late teens/early twenties sounded a chord on his guitar, an attack on the instrument. It was an uncertain thin to do in the midst of that silence. You could sense a hesitancy yet he continued the introductory chords in the same strong manner. And then he began to sing.Allelujah, risorgerà Clear. Pure. Strong.

What was so striking wasn't his technical ability so much as the pure emotion behind it, the kind that put a lump in your throat and goosebumps on the back of your neck. Then another voice joined in, an older man. Then a girl and what appeared to be her mother. More and more voices joined in and people began crowding into a circle around the boy.

It was difficult to tell from this inner ring (and I'm really short to boot) but it felt to me like the entire right side of the piazza was singing along with this boy. If the media cameras jostling through the crowd were anything to judge by, I was right.

It was one of the moments in life that nurtures some minuscule ember of hope that humanity isn't a lost cause (the vast mixture of people singing), yet simultaneously confirms that it is (reporters knocking down kids to get a shot of a nun sobbing).

Edit: Crossposted at MeFi. And I had an update last week about Shithead morphing into the SO and life in general here in bella Roma, but Blogger shat itself once again.

Lil'est Sis hopefully arrives tomorrow *crosses fingers, sacrifices Virgin to US Red Tape Gods* and we head off to Prague for a work conference this weekend. Which means I miss the Pope's funeral, dammit.

Oh well. The conclave should prove interesting and I at least escape from the same 40 clips of GPII being played on every single Italian TV station.

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