Anchiano (not to be confused with Anchiano, Leonardo’s birthplace near Vinci, mentioned in a previous post) on the Brennero Road past Borgo a Mozzano is a place easily by-passed and disregarded. In fact, it is a delightful village with a proud church of Romanesque origin, standing on a prominent knoll with superb views up and down the valley.
I went to the church on Sunday evening to sing in our choir at a special service. The promised afternoon rain fortunately did not fall but it was rather windy for this part of the world.
Because of the shortage of priests different parishes tend to be serviced by one priest. Similarly one Mass can service a variety of different ceremonies. At the Mass we sang at there took place a christening, the ordination of a deacon and the Corpus Christi procession.
Deacons are the answer to the priest-vocation shortage – after all, few young people today want a job with low pay and an edict against sex. Deacons are lay, and often married, persons who are allowed to celebrate Mass apart from the bit from the Sanctus to the Elevation. (For this hosts have to be blessed by priests elsewhere and shipped in). Deacons were present in the early Christian church and included women deaconesses too (they are admitted into Anglican congregations, however) Later deacons were regarded as just the first grade to complete priestly ordination. Vatican council II restored them to a position unto themselves i.e. one could become a deacon without having to commit oneself to becoming a full priest. Married persons can become deacons but (and I think this is totally unfair) an unmarried person can become a Deacon but then may not marry.
Anchiano church is spacious and has wonderful accoustics. Our choir sounded like something out of Brompton Oratory. It also contains some nice works of art. For instance, behind the place where I was singing there was this absolutely charming Della Robbia ciborium. And on the altar to the left there was a beautiful painting of the Madonna with saints:
My camera’s batteries went flat – else I would have taken more shots of the ceremonies (always the case -I remember when a similar situation happened to me on the shores of Loch Ness when I stumbled across Nessie herself…but no-one will believe me).
The Corpus Christi procession was, locally, one of the richest and most opulent in terms of ecclesiastical paraphernalia and the various confraternities (founded in mediaeval times as self-help cooperative and social support groups) paraded in their separate red and blue garbs. I didn’t try the weight of the crucifix but I bet it must have been rather heavy.
I have participated in Corpus Christi processions nearer my village but I felt that the furnishings supplied by Anchiano parish were far superior and better maintained.
I had to remind myself that below all this fervent religious activity is an underground fortress built by Gerry during the last war as part of the gothic line defences. I had visited this labyrinth of passages on a previous occasion. It was so lucky that Anchiano never actually saw much fighting as it would have otherwise been utterly devastated.
I forgot to state what the “something more” refers to in the title of this post. It’s this: our choirmaster has told us that we have been invited to sing before Pope Francis next March in the papal mass at St Peters!