This past week something happened that caught me by surprise. A new Pope was voted in by the World’s Cardinals and their decision brought me to tears.
You see… I am not a hugely religious person. As a matter of fact, the last time I entered a church, was this gorgeous 300 year old cathedral called St. Martino in Sottomarina di Chioggia near Venice (Italy) last summer. Inside it was breathtaking. So much so that Connor, my 9 year old, inspired by its beauty, started telling me that he was going to ask God to cure Nicky every day. Now, that made me cry.
I grew up catholic, truly there isn’t much of a choice in Italy, you are either catholic or basically you don’t believe. I went to a catholic elementary school with nun teachers who taught us to pray every day. There was even a small church inside the school. My grandmother was very religious and fervently prayed every day with the rosary. I was baptized, did my first communion and sang in the church choir, I even wore a cross necklace and a little image of the Madonna. Throughout my school years in Italy, no matter if it was a private or public school, we always had an hour worth of religion teachings a week. Then, when I was 17 and I came to the US, all of a sudden I was confused. I already had questions I could not find answers to, but now those questions were multiplied endlessly. I am not sure what brought on this change, but it was a gradual progression of things. It wasn’t a rebellion, it was a quest for knowledge.
I spent a great deal of time since then trying to understand different religions, different beliefs, different ways people of all races have faith. I learned a great deal about Buddhism and Hinduism and even explored spirituality in many different ways. I do believe our soul never dies, I read too many accounts and too many books to discount this fact, and my personal experiences give me no doubt. While I don’t go to church, and my faith has evolved greatly from being told ‘what to believe’ to understanding why and how, I can now enter a church and understand the whole concept, even if I am not a particular fan of organized religion.
It was Pope John Paul II that gave me something amazing to think about when he said in late 1996 how the church was now embracing evolution, as long as it was understood that only God was to credit for creating the human soul. I believe that wholeheartedly!
So… why was I teary eyed when Pope Francis, or, should I say, Papa Francesco was elected? Many reasons.
For one, this guy, Mario Bergoglio, speaks to me. Just choosing the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, because his main cause was the poor, just left me speechless. It shows me he is truly a good man, the holy man he should be. Just this past election here in the US, there was a war against the poor a disdain for the poor, finally a pontefice who clearly sees the plight of so many families, people down on their luck, struck with illnesses or situations that are none of their making, with no opportunities.
I LOVE that!!!
Also, Mario’s parents both come from the same area of Italy as my mom’s family is from, so I feel a personal connection. Lastly, of course, they are showing me Rome on every channel and Italy makes me teary eyed anyway. I want to be THERE and should be THERE. We are planning our retirement in Italy. Taking nothing away from the United States, I belong to Italy, period. Why? Of course I grew up there and to me it’s home sweet home, but to be blunt, our family unit is utterly alone. We have zero family here. Zero. Holidays suck. My entire family (roughly ten people in my immediate family, easily double that with extended families) all live in a little area near Torino. Why did I leave? I am still wondering.