Last Thursday, thanks to the effort of Michele, we have visited three amazing places. The first was Polignano di Mare (Picture 17 under the posts). It is a beautiful old town from the middle ages next to the sea, not far from Bari in the direction of Lecce. The particularity of the city that it it’s built on seaside rocks.
After that, we went to the Community of Bose (more info: http://www.monasterodibose.it/en/ - Picture 18). Briefly, they are a brother’s community living in celibacy and following the word of the Gospel with different Christian backgrounds. This small fraternity’s main occupation is welcoming young people, and doing practical work, in their case producing olive oil, vegetables, fruits and various jams. After we have arrived, we have participated on a Eucharist held by the four present brothers, together with the visitors in a small underground chapel. It was interesting to experience the monastic depth of the mass, having starting notes on a zither.
Then we went to Ostuni, the so-called white city because the buildings have various shades of white. The medieval city is built on top of a steep hill, with tiny streets and characteristic neighborhoods. In addition, it was one of the cities in Italy where Mel Gibson shot his movie called Passion a couple of years ago (picture 19 and 20).
Friday, besides our work in the morning in the camp we had two premiers. We had our first song practice and our first prayer around the cross. The song practice went easier than expected, mainly because we could rely on Ruis’ brilliant pedagogical skills and because the church’s’ choir leader was also a humble participant jumping in with a good note when needed. The prayer was also a very good surprise for us: when the time came to go up to the cross, we explained shortly what we usually do in Taizé, and invited everyone to join if one feels like. And they did. We were amazed to see people’s courage, young and old, to do this kind of prayer. Although we might need to put the cross higher this Friday, the experience is unforgettable for all of us.
Saturday, as how it is usual now, we went to Santa Scholastica to join the prayer and afterwards we went to the Basilica San Nicola to participate on the celebration of closing the Liturgical Year of Mercy. The bishop of the diocese was there with all the priests we get to know here, including the one, which regularly visits the camp. Markus met two guys from the camp, two Nigerians who are always present at the prayers in the camp chapel every Wednesday. It was interesting to see that although they are waiting for being granted asylum in Italy, they participate on such important Christian community events.
For this Sunday we went to Santa Scholastica to participate on the Eucharist. Afterwards we stayed together with the community for lunch. If you can imagine this explosively joyful, very warm and big loud Italian family who has a 3 hour lunch. Us, trying to speak Italian with moderate success and great encouragement, trying to connect and them just being themselves, the ever-joyful family we got to know in them.
During the week, we continued with our usual schedule in CARA, sometimes we stay longer if listening to an interview with lawyers take longer or we want to continue to play with the children. Not surprisingly, we cannot share the stories we hear, but they will going to continue to work in us for a long time. In the evenings, we stayed together with various groups, to have dinner together, to share. For example, we met a missionary priest who have been in Ethiopia for the greater part of his life and we listened to him, how he built schools, bridges and what kind of savage customs local people have.
Wednesday evening we visited the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco in the outskirts of Bari. First we prayed together with Taizé songs, we gave testimony of our experience and then, as how it’s usual here we stayed a bit to have dinner together. Their main work is to help young people to be together in a safe place, to do their homework, to organize activities together, to play table football with them besides helping homeless people in the weekend.
The next day we visited Matera, a not that infamous, but more beautiful city in the neighboring region called Basilicata. This is the city where many scenes for the Mel Gibson movie Passion were shot, not forgetting that it will also be the European Capital of Culture in 2019. In the evening, we went to Santeramo in Colle. We were invited to join the local Taizé prayer, which they organize every Thursday and to give our testimony. We met Don Rocco and archbishop Giovanni who are old friends of the Community. It is always very inspiring to see that how big mark Taizé has on people. When we entered the church the icon of Virgin and the Child and of Friendship were there, not to mention the young people who are returning every year and even the walls of the rectory, where we’ve been invited to share dinner were full with posters of the stained glasses of Taizé.