Saint Peter runs amokBy
As you probably know, today is St. Peter’s feast day. And in this neighborhood, it really means something.
I’ll bypass the cadenzas about the saint himself, though he has always been my favorite mainly because for most of his life there was nothing so saintly about him, except the part about his asking Jesus to cure his sick mother-in-law. That was cool. But then again, she must have been a saint as well. Imagine having Peter as your son-in-law. (Story about St. Peter’s mother in the next post).
The great thing about him is that before he became the Rock upon which the church was to be founded, he was just a working fisherman, which meant he probably smelled like fish — do they have algae in the Sea of Galilee? He probably smelled like that too — and I’m sure he had chilblains and smashed fingernails and feet that were more like hooves. If you want proof, I mention that he’s the go-to saint for people with foot problems.
More to the point, he had one superb quality and that was, as they say in Venice, that “What he had in his heart, he had in his mouth.” Impulsive, a little clueless sometimes, but spectacularly sincere and frankly never afraid to just put himself out there. (Pause for sound of many, many chips falling where they may.)
Why I like him so much now isn’t merely all the above, but because he is the patron saint of the former cathedral of Venice, the church of San Pietro di Castello, which is just over the canal from our little hovel. And each year they put on one heck of a festa in his honor.
Like most festas, there is music, and food, and dogs and old folks and little babies and a big mass, and etc. But this one also has three regatas, the mass is celebrated byno less than the auxiliary bishop (the patriarch can’t ever be bothered to come to these things), and the party goes on for five solid days, by which I mean nights, too.
What does this mean for us? Well, it means not only five days of the fabulous aroma of charcoal-scorched ribs wafting around the area, and not only five nights of inconceivably loud music audible from way over here, but five nights of all the festa-goers coming and going till 2:00 or even 3:00 in the morning. The main street to the church is right outside our bedroom window and of course our windows are open. Happy people going home always shout, I don’t know why.
So while Peter may be the patron saint of locksmiths (hint: he carries the keys to the kingdom) and butchers and cobblers (feet again) and other trades, including fishermen and netmakers and, naturally, the Papacy, for my money he is also the patron saint, at least in our neighborhood, of the deaf, the insomniac, the overtired and overstimulated (technically he’s the go-to saint for cases of frenzy, but people here like frenzy), and also the occasional Russian drunk.
The latter is a newcomer to the list, but at 4:00 AM last night whoever he was was wandering the streets, which had finally achieved slumber, calling out forlornly for Marco. Surprising how far your voice can carry at that hour.
I have no idea if he ever found him, but I’m really sorry that his friend wasn’t named Peter. That would have been so perfect I might actually have gotten up to help him look.
Maybe next year.