Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sunday Morning

Santa Maria Liberatrice has been the scene of a lot of commotion in our neighborhood lately. The past week the church has been celebrating both the festival of its patron saint and its centennial. On Sunday the 25th, the church finished this festival by bringing their statue of Maria out and parading her through the streets. Mia was caught in the path of the parade on her way home from the Sede. I was able to pick up some of the fliers for the event during one of my visits to the church and both feature two images on the cover; the church and the statue of Maria with her child. The statue portrerys a very adultish baby Jesus who is waving to the crowd and a Mary with a sort of surprised face with a distant stare. It seems as though the two facial expressions should reversed since one is supposed to an adult and the other an infant.

On the following Sunday, the first of June, I visited a much quieter San Maria Liberatrice. I went in about a half an hour after the morning service. There was one confessional open and a few people dotted throughout the church. I took a seat in the back and took some notes. Most of the parishioners were sitting and praying, but some were kneeling. The entire time I visited, no one went to take confession. I found this confusing, because I thought that the increased privacy of such a time would make it ideal for taking confession. However, some of the faithful who were there might have already given penance and only a few entered, so they're not being in church for confession could have just been a coincidence. It seems likely that someone takes confession regularly at this time or the priest would not take time in the confessional. Although, it is possible that selecting unpopular confessional hours could be a way to get out of performing a lot of confessions. Again, though, I doubt that Sunday morning is a time selected with that intention. In any case, I will have to visit again.

While I sat in San Maria Liberatrice, I took some more notes on the place. One thing that I notices was how bare the ceilings are. Having been to a number of Catholic churches in Rome by this point, I have seen much smaller institutions with elaborately gilded ceilings. I think that the simplicity of Liberatrice's ceiling is probably related to the fact that it is such a new church (100 years is nothing in Rome) and that the neighborhood, Testaccio, is a working-class neighborhood. It is doubtful that the folks there have the money for too many unnecessary decorations. I also noticed an older woman moving a table and some rugs around in the middle of church. The church seems to be a center of activity almost all of the time. Because the building is used for so many events, it is constantly being rearranged, even if in small ones by a single person.

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