The church is at the centre of society and family life in Sicily. The fact that Piazza Duomo, meaning ‘Cathedral Square,’ is the main piazza of the city reinforces this. The many Baroque churches in Sicily are among the most beautiful buildings on the island, captivating passers by with their imposing size, unity of form and elegance. Below is a collection of images.
The principal purpose of a church is of course to celebrate mass, and in Sicily it differs from other Catholic countries. Firstly, the churches are mostly stunning buildings and this tends to add a sense of atmosphere. Secondly, the Italian language is more suited to such ceremonies in my own humble subjective opinion. Thirdly, you are constantly reminded of The Godfather.
Unfortunately some ignorant Sicilians like to talk during mass. They cannot possibly control themselves, not even for half an hour. They comment on every possible matter, including the most mundane. Couples often place their arms around each other in a manner more befitting the cinema. They exchange the odd kiss on the cheek just to remind each other of their reciprocal interest. But who am I to tell Sicilians what to do in their own country?
The popular pastime of many in Catania is affecting a pained expression and moaning about everything. Sicilian women, almost perfect as they are, are utterly guilty of this social no no. They were so nearly perfect. They bring this pastime to the church also where one cannot but be aware of the difficulties of their existence.
I was surprised by how many young people go to mass but why should I be surprised? The self-serving Irish media would have you believe that there were cobwebs over the door. It’s not true there and it’s not true here either. It’s like saying “it always snows in Russia” and if you don’t go and see for yourself you can’t be sure. Then you go to Moscow and there’s no snow. But if the PM of that country tells me there is snow, then I would just accept it without arguing.
During a pause after communion last Sunday, music floated in through the open doors, coming from the tourist ridden streets. The theme of The Godfather was clearly heard throughout the church. People smiled and looked at each other, even the priest made a joke out of it. You could almost see Michael Corleone bowed in prayer while simultaneously across town his enemies were being eliminated. Andiamo in pace… (Go in peace.)
If you have faith: go in and pray
If you don’t have faith: go in anyway but be silent
If you have manners: go in dressed decently, turn off your phone and respect the sacred place.
John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home. His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction. It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society. Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:
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Back to the Gaff
Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
Back to the Gaff is a book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.
Ebook and paperback available here: