Friday, September 11, 2009

Mistaken... for a Yank

Last night I heard Holy Mass at Ssma Trinità again, and afterward had the pleasure of meeting one of the curates, an Englishman, who gave me a tour of the church, explaining some of the details I'd missed, and shewing me two fabulous paintings in the sacristy - one, being of the Mass of St Gregory, a very famous work, and the other, a picture of St Philip Neri surreptitiously sketched while he was washing the feet of pilgrims: he is reported to have laughed at this pious deception, and said, Ah, you've robbed me! (He abhorred any focus on his person, and grew angry if any dared call him a saint to his face, for he always considered himslef wretched, and after every illness earnestly purposed to mend his ways and start to do good... it was his desire to be unknown - amare nescivi - and another motto of his was Secretum meum mihi, My secret is mine own.)

I think I will obtain a reproduction, by the way, of the Guido Reni altarpiece of the Trinity: it would fit admirably with my reproduction copy of Our Lady's apparition to St Philip, and I can get it framed to match.

(Here is a link, by the way, to an image of the chapel of St Philip in the main church.)

I had a curious experience on my way back to the monastery: having wandered along - past (for instance) the church on the Tiber Island which proudly declares upon its façade, Here lies the body of St Bartholomew the Apostle! - I stopt at the nearest bar to have some dinner. I waited, and waited... the waiter, when he finally materialized, seemed rather churlish in dealing with me, and made what even my Italian registered as some impertinent comments. But all was revealed at last - at the end of the meal, when he and his sister spoke with me in halting English, it turned out they thought I was a Californian, and when they discovered I was Australian, all was forgiven, and they invited me back! Perhaps if I get over my mortification I will return there...

I suspect that these Romanian shopkeepers (for such they were) have got sick of that international pest, "the ugly American", a tourist rude and loud, and when they detected I spoke English assumed the worst. You'd think that my patient waiting, saying grace and reading a book on the Mass while drinking my beer may have let them know I was a bit different to that!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know the Englishman - good Priest! :D Say hi from me!