This distinguished looking member of the Orthodox clergy was sitting at the table near to mine at the Metropole Cafe in Cathedral Square this morning. I thought he had that sort of, at the least, Old Testament prophet look if not, at the most, "God the Father" himself from a few of the paintings I've seen around.
But I was not the only one impressed - an North American couple (that is the gentleman in white) of East Indian origin off one of the cruise ships were fascinated by him. There were some desperate attempts to communicate and some intriguing pantomimes and finally Spiros, one of the waiters was dragged into the little scenario playing out beside me.
"Tell him he has a divine look," the woman commanded in a tone that was not to be denied. "Tell him he's divine!"
The message was convey to the rather bemused clergyman who accepted it with a gracious nod - am I just imagining that his wife giggled a bit?
"We want his blessing," said the husband while making a vague sign of benediction in the direction of his wife and himself.
"No I want him to place his hands on my head," insisted the wife. "I want a proper blessing!"
Poor Spiros communicated this rather unusual request as the husband pulled the priest up to his feet, grabbed his hands and placed them on his wife's head. The priest muttered something in Greek - it could have been a blessing. Then repeated it for the man. The wife kissed his hand as did the husband and faces beaming they took their leave, turning to wave several times as they headed towards the Cathedral.
The priest sat down, gave me a "I'm not sure what just went on here" look and dipping his napkin in some water wiped off his hands. I am not at all sure he was that happy but there were two radiant people basking in the glow of his "blessing". And, no doubt, this evening, at dinner, they'll be recounting the experience to their table mates.
21 ottobre - San Gaspare del Bufalo