At the same time “he appointed, in the same place, appropriate officers for the maintenance of this practice and handed them a sheet of paper on which the Philadelphia were written down, and read out loud to the eighty brothers who had signed up as members, and who unanimously and in viva voce accepted them spontaneously singing out the Philadelphia, as a sign joy at the founding of such a holy institution. Spiritual exercises began on the evening of the following Sunday and were presided over, Philadelphia to the consolation of the members of the congregation, by the Founder himself. The following day he was called back to his business in Philadelphia, but he left in the heart of each one an affectionate memory of his person and a sacred envy of his devotion.”
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Everything has already happened
The authors of the Statutes could hardly imagine that centuries after they drafted them, they would be remembered in a new ritual of foundation in another world, and that the Te Deum Laudamus would rise in the forests of Ontario, and that the Sunday ritual of the congregation, which had been taking place from that day onwards every Sunday in the village, would find a new itinerary in a faraway place. In the village, the procession with its stops and turns had the effect of sacralising a place, identifying a centre, and ultimately uniting separate territories.
What is the meaning of this walk along foreign trails that have no connection with our personal history? What kind of centre can be established far away from our own places, not only from those of origin, but also from those in which we have landed—Little Italy—and those in which today people live and work, far from the areas where most of the paesani live? Perhaps, this itinerary, rather than affirming a setting of roots, points to a displacement, to a need for a new “settlement,” once we have reached the conclusion that the village is far away, a shadow. Perhaps it’s a way of pointing to and affirming a presence in the new world, informed by all that could be learned from the old, with an eye on what our fathers have given us and what they left behind.
The new itinerary unravels slowly and with restraint in front of the altar and the platform of the statues of the Crucifix and Our Lady of Sorrows, the first wrapped in and covered by a large red cloth, and the second by a purple mantle, the colours of the two brotherhoods. The brothers gather around the altar, which is presided over by two priests, and on the edges of the platform. The faithful fan out into the wide-open space. The mood becomes more sombre and solemn. Some members of the congregation deliver a wicker basket wrapped in a cloth to the vice-president of the association. When he lifts the cloth, two doves fly up into the sky, just as it has been taking place in the place of origin. The band starts to play. The faithful sing the Te Deum and other solemn hymns of the confraternity. These Latin voices, rising up to fly over the crowns of the maple trees of Ontario, are most beautiful. Someone pulls on the strings attached to the mantles covering the statues of the Crucifix with the Angels, and the statues of the Crucified with the Angels and of Our Lady of Sorrows finally rise in this Canadian sky.
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