Here in San Venanzo, and in other small villages throughout Italy (and probably the rest of the world), the church is still very much a part of everyday life. If you’ve seen any of my YouTube videos you’ll have seen the various religious processions. Gatherings with food and sometimes music are held regularly in the church hall, and of course everyone know the parish priest, Father Gerry.
Recently I’ve been trying to use up all, or at least some, of the food in the freezer before we go back to the states. I had a large chicken that needed to be cooked, so I decided to make chicken and dumplings. When I opened the frig I discovered that all the celery was gone, so we walked down to the market to buy a stalk. On the way home Art stopped by the bar for a coffee and to read the morning paper. I needed to get back home quickly, otherwise lunch wouldn’t be ready in time. Chicken and dumplings really doesn’t take a long time to cook, but I needed to cut up and skin the chicken, then brown it and add the veggies that would also need to be cleaned and cut. And so there I was, in the middle of stripping the skin from a chicken leg when the doorbell rang!
At first I thought Art must have forgotten his key, but I’d only been home a few minutes and I wondered why he was back so soon. I quick look through the peephole revealed a surprising visitor – Father Gerry!
It’s traditional for the priests to come around to each house during Lent to bless the house, and Father Gerry confirmed that yes, that’s what he was here for. “Great!”, I told him, “our house is for sale and we can use all the blessings we can get!” We chatted for a few minutes, and I told Father Gerry about the statue of ST. JOSEPH I’d brought back from the states. I told him that not only is St. Joseph the patron saint of the family, but also of realtors and people who’re selling their homes. I told him about the tradition of burying the statue upside down in the front yard, but I wasn’t able to tell him the significance of that upside down part!
Father Gerry (who’s Irish, by the way) then blessed the house, gave me a holy card, and graciously accepted a small donation for the church. On his way out the door he also thanked me for posting the processions and various San Venanzo functions on YouTube. I knew many of the locals had seen my videos on YouTube, but I never suspected the parish priest was watching too!
Not ten minutes later the doorbell rang again and it was another priest, one I didn’t know. (Sometimes they call in reinforcements for busy occasions) I told him that Father Gerry had already been by and that the house had been blessed. By the time Art got home (with his key in hand so I didn’t have to wash my hands to answer the door a third time!) he’d missed our visitors, but hopefully the blessings will continue for everyone who visits our home.