I was out early on Sunday morning to buy cornetti at the corner cafÃ©. I noticed a new wall of posters by the tramlines. I didn’t recognize the huge close up of an old man.
I first thought it was the Pope, but when I saw the name and logo in the corner (Executive Committee of the Democratic Left), I dismissed the idea and guessed it must be some union leader or anti-fascist partisan.
Shortly after I realized that my first intuition had been correct. Why had I hesitated? First because it is such an unusual photo of the Pope – just the gentle face of an old man, without any indication of office or any religious symbols. Second, because I didn’t imagine the Left putting up such an image, the first “street” acknowledgement of the Pope’s death.
During the following night, every single poster was vandalized. Most had a white band stuck on the bottom, to cover the association with the Left; others had the offending corner crudely ripped off. What organization! Who could have done it? Radical leftists disgusted by their Executive? Officials enforcing an obscure law on exploiting religion on election day? (Sunday was the regional election.) Or anti-leftists who were outraged that the first ones to pay tribute to the Pope were non-believers?
Whatever the case, the following days have seen a profusion of new posters, each outdoing the other in images of piety and devotion, for example, the Pope at prayer beneath a glowing Christ raising three fingers or as a shrunken figure in his huge golden pontifical robes.