Saturday, 29 January 2011

Does Don Camillo have the Catholic identity?

Don Camillo - as played by Fernandel
OK, I know he is a fictional character and he has been around for 60 or so years now but, for me, Giovanni Guareschi's small town Italian Priest with hands like joints of meat and a massive overdose of charity and a touch of peasant guile does symbolise much that I, if not admire, certainly can empathise with. He is so very human and comes with all the frailities associated with that label. He is quick to anger but, equally quick to forgive. He defends his faith in a muscular fashion and, maybe we could do with a bit more of that today. I remember a well known Catholic priest of the 60s whose parish was in Tiger Bay, Cardiff. A rough and violent neck of the woods if ever there was one. One of his docker parishioners constantly beat up his long suffering wife. Father H received a report of an exceptionally bad beating (up to then he had admonished and remonstrated with the man) and decided that enough was enough. He went round to the house, took off his jacket and gave the man a thorough thrashing. He never laid a hand on his wife after that. I like direct and effective action. I even think that, on that occasion, it was a Christ like thing to do. Don Camillo would have done that and then he would have sought the company of the crucified Christ in his church and confessed to a sin of anger. "Did you cause him permanent harm Don Camillo?" The Lord would say.
"No, Lord, I just duffed him up a bit". "Well, then you have done my work for me, thank you Don Camillo".
If you have never read the Don Camillo series I recommend that you do so. Every story has a moral and every story portrays good versus bad - not evil, just bad. And maybe that is part of our identity also.

Good usually triumphs in the Don Camillo stories - but not always!

1 comment:

  1. These are truly wonderful books for sure! I love them! :)