Friday, 6 June 2008

To Rome without a camera

Until 18 months ago I had never visited this glorious, beautiful, mad and inspiring city and now I'm here for the fourth time. Walking to and from my course past the Colisseum and the Forum I still find it mindblowing to see more than 2,000 years of history in one glance - and no photo I take ever does it justice so I've let Dr B take the camera to Berlin.
Now I don't feel obliged to take photos I feel able to drink it all in rather more and just sit and drink a coffee and enjoy it - rather than feel I have to record it.
I realised that it is strange for me to be somewhere so very Catholic, old and young nuns and priests at every turn.
Coming into the house this evening I noticed the "household gods" in the entrance foyer with the blessed palm Sunday olive branch over them - these are not the household gods I learnt about in my school Latin and Roman culture classes, but porcelain busts of Jesus and Mary. Blessed palm Sunday branches are only something I've learnt about since living in France - there they tend to be branches of box rather than olive branches. In the popular religious mind they bring good luck and blessing to the house, ward off evil and are generally quite a good thing to have. Appeasing the household gods and demons I suppose.
Until living in France I'd only ever seen palm crosses not branches.
Yet as I look at nuns and priests moving around the city here I realise that a seismic change has already taken place in Christianity - it has moved to the global South. What will that mean for future visitors to the eternal city in 50 or 100 years time . What will the household gods be then will blessed branches still be used to appease them?