As I mentioned in an earlier post there are shrines all over the city. Many are built into the walls that surround estates or courtyards and are tended to by local societies or confraternities. Flowers, petitions and candles are left imploring the protection or favour of the Saint being honoured - in most cases Santa Maria Virgine. This particular shrine - to the Virgin - is set into the wall surrounding our Villa complex.
As well as the plastic flowers (at many shrines they are real and changed regularly) and petitions that are attached to the grill there has been a red votive candle on the ground in front of the shrine for the past two weeks. When the first burnt out it was replaced. What I as an non-Italian find unusual is this votive has sat on the ground totally unmolested for that long. The walls may be sprayed with graffiti, people may throw litter on the streets but that candle has not moved. And ours is a busy street with two embassies side-by-side and a very large elementary-junior school at one corner. You would think that a bright red glass votive holder would be the target for, at the least, a prank of some kind. But there it sits - burning, representing some one's intentions and concerns. Had this been back in Ottawa I'm pretty sure that within a day it would have been used as a football or stolen.
It says a lot about the power of traditions, and perhaps superstition, in this country.
28 febbraio - San Osvaldo