I had done a little bit of research prior to Sunday about Catholic churches in the area. Seeing as I was in a staunchly anti-catholic country, I was surprised at the amount of parishes in the vicinity of my dorm. (My school is in the borough of Islington on the map above.) There were two rather sketchy looking ones so I decided to take my chances on a nice looking one called St. Peter’s Italian Church. Now make sure to click that link and read it thoroughly. Does it say anywhere on there whether this Italian Church conducts mass in English or Italian? I couldn’t find a definitive answer so I decided to go ahead and give it a try.
I woke up rather late for an 11 a.m. mass at a parish I had never been to physically, so I skipped the shower and went straight there. I decided to “dress up” because I wasn’t sure what the local custom was for masses here. It turned out to be a great call, as you will soon know why. I hustled out of my dorm and walked at a brisk pace. The church turned out to be a lot closer than I had realized so I got to the place at 10:30 a.m., a whole 30 minutes early. I walked in and had a quick look around. It was a fairly large church for being in the middle of the city and was really stunning. You could never tell from the little doorway outside what was to come inside the doors. They had a large, full scale replica nativity scene still up, one that reminded me a lot of the ones that they used in Mexico. Then I picked up a paper with the day’s songs and readings. It was in Italian… That’s when it became conclusive that I would not be hearing mass in English today. Luckily they had an English leaflet too, so I could at least follow along in a language I spoke. As it got closer to mass time the pews filled up until it was jam packed. I would say 75% of the crowd consisted of impeccably well dressed Italians over the age of 70, with suits and ties for the guys and fur coats for the ladies. They were all speaking in rapid Italian to each other too so it was quite an experience. I sat in the fourth row of pews, but as is usually the case in old churches, it was still super far away from the altar. Having not brought my glasses, I was left to squint to try and see the priest. As mass finally started, a choir began singing in Italian. Being one that enjoys singing in church, I joined in, not knowing most of what I was saying and pronouncing everything terribly. No matter. Italian is a lot like Spanish so I got the basic gist of everything. I would say I understood about 35% of what was said, with 45% no making any sense and 20% being it was simply being spoken too quickly. Nevertheless, I really really enjoyed myself. I looked at it as a challenge. I plan on returning to this mass every week with the hopes that at the end of these four months, I will be able to speak Italian at church like a pro.
That was my view as I walked home. I picked up a scrumptious and affordable $2 lunch at Tesco (like Walgreens) consisting of a chicken and bacon sandwhich, an orange juice and chips, went to the common room and turned on the TV. Lo and behold, there’s soccer on. One of my favorite teams, Manchester United, was about to play. Right around kick-off, I was joined in the room by 3 locals, two of whom supported the other team, Liverpool, so it made for a great atmosphere. (Especially because my team won 1-0.) After the game I chillaxed most of the day before going out to dinner at a local pub, where I scored a real life hamburger (rarities here) and a drink for 5 pounds. Can’t beat that.