I’ve been watching the response which has been stirred by the placing of the body of Padre Pio on display. The protestant in me finds it all a bit difficult. But it gets better if you step sideways and ponder the power of that kind of spirituality – the stigmata which are or are not and people’s appetite for the holy. I suppose some of the power is in its directness and touchability – not bound up in inaccessible ideas and words. I used to love poking around in the recesses of North Italian village churches. They all had relics with ill-translated and ill-typed explanations of how the statue of the Virgin broke out in an aqueous sweat in 1453 – and here is the very identical handkerchief.
Ireland is probably second only to Italy for this kind of piety – if you are unaware of the Moving Statues of Ballinspittle, you should take a look.