One of the features of a stop in any town in Sicily is a visit to the Duomo or a church of note. Now I’ve stated before that I am not a fan of the baroque but Sicilian baroque is so overloaded, so over stated, so over the top that its beautiful. What is so often ponderous in Roma here has a light-heartedness and beauty that reflects the devotion of the people. That is not to say it isn’t sincere just that there is sometimes a slight tongue-in-cheek air to it all.
And in Ragusa I’ve seen two examples of that strange mix of the serious and the wry that gave me a chuckle.
This morning in the beautiful Cathedrale di San Giorgio (the Patron Saint of Ragusa) in Ragusa Ibla I came upon this devote woman kneeling in prayer. She was addressing her requests to the Almighty in a strong loud voice.
It wasn’t until I heard her say, in a slightly testy tone, “Ascolti me!” that I realized she was talking on the cell phone. I only wish the picture had been clearer but there she was on her knees, in the Cathedrale and giving proper hell to someone about something.
Now I know some American evangelists have maintained they have a direct line to God but so it would seem does some little Lady in Ragusa Ibla. And she knows Him well enough to put Him in His place.
And yesterday the quiet of a sunny Sunday afternoon was broken by the sounds of organ music coming from the Chiesa del Anime in Purgatorio in Piazza Republica. Listening to the soothing sounds of church music seemed like an appropriate way to end the afternoon and a nice pause before climbing the 800 odd steps that would take me from Ragusa Ibla up to Ragusa Superiore. What I got instead was this little display of virtuosity which surprised even me, who thought he had heard everything in the way of music in church.
I honestly didn’t know that church organs had all those percussion stops but I guess this one does. I was reminded of the story about one of the Pope’s in the 19th century banning popular music in the church as it was becoming too raucous. Obviously the ban has been lifted or never made it this far south.
16 maggio – Santa Gemma Galgani