Tag Archives: Italy

Address at Eaglesfield Church – 13 September 2015

This was delivered in what is traditionally the “Children’s slot” in the Sunday Service. I was, however, told by the Minister that there would be no children present; she suggested an “Adults’ Address” (the Sermon was later in the Order of Service)  So it’s a curious creature this one – a bit of a “dog’s dinner” (and that’s how I introduced it…….

I travel abroad four or five times a year – and, inevitably, forget to take a hat.

In Italy earlier this year, a particular baseball cap took my fancy.

The logo was simply “Italia 1871”

I don’t speak Italian – English is sometimes a struggle too! – but with pointing and gesturing and miming, the guy who ran the stall told me 8 Euros – a bargain….. but what was this “1871”?

More awkward communication or lack of it…. then the proverbial penny, or should that be “cent”?, dropped.

Most of us did history at school…. and dredged up from my memory…must have been 53 or 54 years ago…. ah, the date of Italian unification.

And I even remembered the name of the campaign to bring together all the various city-states and regions that made up a then fragmented Italy

The word: “Risorgimento”  In the best accent I could muster, I said to the vendor, “Ah, Risorgimento” ….

To which he replied, “8 Euro”

Well I got the cap, and then promptly got lost in the alleyways of Verona or it may have been Venice – I’ve no sense of direction & really shouldn’t be allowed out on my own.

After, several attempts at communication, I eventually found my destination and transport to my hotel.

Risorgimento – the ‘Father of Modern Italy’ is considered to be General Giuseppe Garibaldi  (who unlike Mr Kipling doesn’t make exceedingly good biscuits)

Italia - proclamacion

He was a great hero and patriot who fought for a unified Italy

It’s said that one evening, in 1861, while marching along a mountainous area with his troops, he came across a poor Sardinian shepherd  in great distress – the man had lost a lamb from his flock.

Garibaldi, despite the protests of his men,  promised to find the lost lamb.

He immediately commanded his troops to organize an operation to search the whole mountain ranges and recover the missing lamb. The troops reluctantly searched the whole area carrying lighted lanterns but could not find the lost lamb anywhere.

They returned empty handed and reported to the General that the lamb could not be traced. They abandoned the futile search and retired to their quarters

The next morning, Garibaldi’s attendant found that the General was still in bed much longer than his usual schedule.

Garibaldi used to rise up earlier than anyone in the camp. The attendant awoke him. He rubbed his eyes and brought out from his blanket the little lamb lost by the shepherd.

He had continued the search throughout the night even though his soldiers had stopped the search and gone to bed.

The compassionate heart of the great General was full of pity for the poor and helpless shepherd and his lost little lamb. Hence he could not stop the search or go to sleep; so he had continued to search throughout the night.


Sometimes, communication can be difficult.  Much is lost in translation.

Often the first casualty is frustration which comes from a lack of patience which can lead to abandonment.

And sometimes compassion is ditched alongside disinterest.

Not so with General Garibaldi – never so with the great shepherd of the sheep – Jesus the Saviour to whom all of God’s living creation was precious.  He is the Good Shepherd – and we his flock – even – perhaps especially the least of our brethren

St. Peter teaches,. “You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls” {1 Peter 2: 24, 25}.

And Jesus seeks and saves the lost – of all types – communicating God’s love for us all – and through him, we are united in that love.

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Top of the Popes?

Nun from the Order of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family wows the judges and audience of the Italian version of “The Voice”. This could become a habit


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March 21, 2014 · 09:15

The Francis Effect (Guardian newspaper)




Pope Francis’s election has boosted the number of Catholics going to church, both in Italy and in the UK, according to Italian researchers. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Hundreds of thousands of Italian Catholics have flocked back to church since the election of the pope, according to a study published on Mondaythat credits the “Francis effect” for the boost in congregations.

Researcher Massimo Introvigne, a sociologist and head of Italy’s Centre for the Study of New Religions (Cesnur), found that 51% of 250 priests he interviewed reported a significant rise in church attendance since the election of the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in March.

“If we project those results nationally, and if only half the parishes and communities in Italy have been touched by the Francis effect, then we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who are returning,” he said.

There was evidence that the 76-year-old Argentinian pope had made an even more dramatic impact in Britain. In a smaller survey, of 22 British cathedrals, 65% of the respondents had said they had noticed a rise in numbers, Introvigne added.

He said he first discovered evidence of a surge in attendance at mass in a survey he carried out soon after Francis became pope. He decided to conduct a more extensive poll to see if observance had since returned to its previous level.

“It might have been attributable to the novelty of having a new pope and the emotions stirred by the resignation of pope Benedict. But after six months I got more or less the same result,” he said.

According to two of Italy’s most senior clerics, Francis is making his biggest impact on long-lapsed Catholics. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence, said: “So many are returning to the sacraments, in some cases after decades.”

His account was borne out by the auxiliary bishop of L’Aquila, Giovanni D’Ercole, who said in an interview with the daily La Stampa that “Francis makes headway above all among those who had distanced themselves from Christian life.”

Introvigne cautioned that the persistence of the Francis effect would depend on how parish priests dealt with those who had previously abandoned their faith: “whether they are made to feel welcome” and whether they were given a proper re-introduction to Catholicism.

Pope Francis, who was noted for his simple lifestyle while archbishop of Buenos Aires, has refused the opulent trappings of the papacy and repeatedly advocated a simpler, poorer and less bureaucratic church. Some of his initiatives have also suggested he intends decentralising the administration of the world’s biggest Christian denomination.

In one of the first public signs of misgivings, an influential Catholic writer on Sunday disparaged the idea of a less hierarchical church and defended the Vatican bureaucracy. Vittorio Messori, whose book-length interview with the late pope John Paul II sold millions of copies around the world, wrote in the daily Corriere della Sera that the dream of a “poor, egalitarian church [reminiscent of its] origins in which faith is freed of superstructures” was at odds with the historical fact that charismatic movements that “refused to change into hierarchical institutions” were swiftly reduced to irrelevance.

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Mama Maria!


Calls for father Maggioni as pope among comments by viewers
(ANSA) – Milan, July 18 – A dancing, singing priest whose performance was uploaded onto Youtube has garnered an audience of almost one million viewers and become one of the channel’s most watched videos this week. Father Bruno Maggioni from the town of Limbiate near Milan was filmed during a marriage ceremony singing a 1980s hit by the Italian group Ricchi e Poveri called ‘Mamma Maria’, which he dedicated to the wedding couple.
The video shows the enthusiastic and bespectacled priest hit the play button on a stereo placed on the altar then run in front of the crowd singing, clapping and bouncing to the beat. Dubbed the “craziest priest in Italy,” some comments on Youtube have called for the father to be elected pope while others have booed his unorthodox display.

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July 19, 2013 · 05:09

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Actions Speak Louder than Words

caffè sospeso

From Wikipedia

caffè sospeso ( suspended coffee) is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of charity. The tradition began in the working-class cafes of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying the price of two coffees but receiving and consuming only one. A poor person enquiring later whether there was a sospeso available would then be served a coffee for free. Coffee shops in other countries have adopted the sospeso to increase sales.

One 2010 account claims the tradition was over 100 years old, but declined during the postwar period, so that it is mainly observed around Christmastime. A 2008 article reported the tradition was obsolescent, the reporter visiting three bars where it had not been observed for at least 15 years. 

The sospeso gave the title to a 2008 journalism collection by Neapolitan Luciano De CrescenzoIl caffe sospeso: Saggezza quotidiana in piccoli sorsi, which helped publicise the tradition throughout Italy. The idea has been reported in cafés in Bulgaria Kiev, Melbourne,  Quebec,  Russia, Spain and Argentina A Dutch campaign at Christmas 2011 gave a discount on the price of the donated coffee.

The UK arm of coffee chain Starbucks signed up for a charity initiative based on the suspended coffee concept in April 2013, in which it said it would match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to the Oasis charity.  The growth of the trend in other coffee shops in the UK also received media coverage around the same time.

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May 22, 2013 · 09:43