Jun
29

Saint Peter runs amok

By

As you probably know, today is St. Peter’s feast day.   And in this neighborhood, it really means something.

St. Peter by Carlo Crivelli (1473).  Not looking particularly saintly here; those spectacular keys may be slightly more of a burden than a blessing.

St. Peter by Carlo Crivelli (1473). Not looking particularly saintly here; those spectacular keys may be slightly more of a burden than a blessing.

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.

Peter's feet, a detail from a limewood relief carving by Christoph Daniel Schenk.

Peter's feet, a detail from a limewood relief carving by Christoph Daniel Schenck (1685).

 

 

 

 

 

Peter's hands, a detail from a painting by Georges de la Tour (

Peter's hands, a detail from a painting by Georges de la Tour (1615-1620).

 

 

 

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.)

The posters are a bit redundant, since everyone already knows all about it.

The posters are a bit redundant, since everyone already knows all about it.

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.

The juggler is working the audience into a frenzy.  "Festa" is just another word for frenzy.

The juggler is working the audience into a frenzy. "Festa" is just another word for frenzy.

 

 

Attempting to kill your friend with your balloon sword is always entertaining.

Attempting to kill your friend with your balloon sword is always entertaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balloons that are not swords are also fun.

Balloons that are not swords are also fun.

 

I have no idea what happened. One minute he was fine, the next minute he was hysterical. Festas seem to have that effect on little people.

I have no idea what happened. One minute he was fine, the next minute he was hysterical. Festas seem to have that effect on little people.

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.

We rowed the auxiliary bishop and the parish priest to church for the big mass on Sunday morning.

We rowed the auxiliary bishop and the parish priest to church for the big mass on Sunday morning.

We were preceded by the band from Sant' Erasmo. I have only ever heard them play two pieces, maybe three. They're never completely in tune, but they're very loud, which is all that matters.

We were preceded by the band from Sant' Erasmo. I have only ever heard them play two pieces, maybe three. They're never completely in tune, but they're very loud, which is all that matters.

Two of the nine mascaretas rowed by women battling it out in the regata of the Marie (Marys). As always, the ladies were shrieking the most un-saintly remarks at each other. Of course, the men do too, but the women are much worse.

Two of the nine mascaretas rowed by women battling it out in the regata of the Marie (Marys). As always, the ladies were shrieking the most un-saintly remarks at each other. Of course, the men do too, but the women are much worse.

One of these ladies is trying to imitate the other.

One of these ladies is trying to imitate the other.

Mass is over, now we can all go eat.

Mass is over, now we can all go eat.

These guys must have to burn their clothes, after five days in the smokehouse.

These guys must have to burn their clothes, after five days in the smokehouse.

IMG_8343 san piero comp
IMG_8321 san piero comp
IMG_8345 san piero comp
IMG_8327 san piero comp
IMG_8367 san piero comp
IMG_8346 san piero comp
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Categories : Events, Food, Venetian-ness

Comments

  1. Christa says:

    Boy, those Italians really know how to party! I remember the festival of San Gennaro in New York City so many years ago. I bet you are surprised I spelled that correctly. (I looked it up on Google – giggle). I now realize that that is associated with Naples, but what the hey, it’s still Italy.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge