Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Italy: A Cigar and a Eucharistic Procession

We recently returned from a two week pilgrimage in Italy. Visiting historical and religious sites in Naples, San Giovanni Rotundo, Lanciano, Assisi, Rome, among others was a wonderful and joyful experience. Besides the beautiful churches and amazing history, we also enjoyed great food and drink, and even had time for cigars on occasion. 

Once such smoking occasion was in San Giovanni Rotundo, the home town of Saint Padre Pio. When we stepped outside after dinner I noticed the hotel's outdoor dining area had "Vietato fumare" signs posted -- some of the rare no smoking posters we saw during the entire trip. Our bus driver happened by and we asked him where we could smoke. He looked at us like we were crazy and waved his arms around, stating, "Outside." That was the situation almost everywhere. If an outdoor dinner area didn't have ashtrays on the tables, they'd generally bring you one if asked. 

We opted to stroll and smoke. We had visited San Giovanni Rotundo fourteen years ago, and although the town had grown and expanded exponentially, we still recalled our way around the old original section.

As walked by the Basilica where the Saint had lived, we heard the distinctive sound of a thurible being swung coming from inside the church. We realized a Eucharist Procession was taking place and the people were exiting the building onto the plaza in front. We stopped our stroll and knelt in adoration until the procession reentered the church. Coincidentally, during our first visit to San Giovanni Rotundo 14 years ago, we happened upon a huge procession as well during a festival. 

Although we had enjoyed cigars after some dinners earlier in the trip, I happened to joke to the priest friend with us that this could be the inaugural smoke of our informal Saint Pope Pius X smoking group. We took it as Divine Providence that the procession began as we arrived with our cigars in front the basilica. 

There would be many cigars and other adventures during our trip. Some of those will be the subject of later Musings.


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