by Melinda Gallo

A pause in San Remigio

Yesterday was Festa di Ognissanti (All Saintsí Day), but I didnít go to the chiesa (church) as I had initially planned to say a brief prayer for my parents. On this day, many people visit the cimitero (cemetery) to pay tribute to those who have passed. Since my parents arenít in a local cimitero, I wanted to go to San Remigio, which is the chiesa where I ordered a messa (mass) for my parents a couple of years ago. By the time I got out of the house yesterday, the chiesa was already closed for lunch. Later in the afternoon, I got busy and didnít feel like going back.

This morning, I decided that I would go to the San Remigio to light a couple of candles for my parents. When I walked in, a woman I knew walked out. I picked out two candles, lit them, and set them on the tray with a few others. I sat down in one of the pews and looked around the dimly lit chiesa. There was only one other man there who was on his knees praying. I didnít look up at him, but noticed that he walked out with a briefcase.

I was alone in the chiesa for only a few seconds when another woman entered. She too went to light a few candles on the other side of the small chiesa. Then, another woman came into the church and sat down in a pew toward the front. A priest rushed around, setting things up at the altar. The initially quiet chiesa had become rather busy. I had no idea what goes on in an active chiesa. Many of the chiese that I visit are usually fairly quiet with only tourists milling around, but this chiesa only had locals coming in and out.

I was happy for those few moments of silence, thinking about my parents. I said goodbye to the candles I lit and walked outside where the light seemed brighter and the colors even more vibrant. Maybe I didnít really notice them all before or maybe the contrast from the chiesa was just greater. There was some construction work being done, which I could hear inside. It was an interesting sensation to be enclosed in a chiesa where it was quiet and dark with only a hint of the outside world seeping inside.

I enjoy spending quiet time in chiese because it always nudges me to pause and take note of whatís going on around me. I often walk in and out of churches to light candles, but I sometimes get so busy that I donít do it often enough.

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