The first visit to Naples was amazing, a city of extra-ordinary contrasts. I had been offered a job there a few years ago as a chaplain to some Filipino sisters, who were working with poor immigrants, a bit odd as I have hardly any Italian, but then Filipinoes use English as a working language, I think they were deperate for their own priest. I didn't have time to look them up.
Poverty was so very evident but so too was devotion, the glorious churches like the Duomo, with its huge silver reliquary busts in the chapel of St Gennarius; his blood liquifies three times a year when it is brought close tho his bones. There are shrines in odd locations, little conservatories that elsewhere would be vandalised, normally with an ugly statue of St Pio (Padre Pio), here there are fresh flowers, the photographs of the recently deceased.
What delighted me was the sense that God and his saints are alive and active. That prayer works. That it is normal to have images of the saints in taxis, on buses, on street corners, in the home and in shops; public demonstrations of faith build faith and create an envioroment in which there is an expectation that God is at Work.
I look forward to going again and having more time.