Ever since this project began, I knew that once the Evil One got wind of what was happening that we would face all-out war. It has surprised me that it has taken this long for that force to kick in, but today we were overdue for it! After all, we have overcome a lot of stumbling blocks in these past few days with the near miraculous help we have had. But few things are quite as entangled in the devil’s tail as the Italian government system. Anyone who thinks that Socialism is a good idea should be forced to live in Italy for a year and have to obtain permits for every single thing they want to do. It’s like being in one of the rings of hell.
How do I know this, you ask? Well, I’ve dealt with it before, but I got a really lovely taste of it all day long today after the Vatican police started asking questions of us…and then the Italian police joined them…and by the end, we had 7 cops on both sides of the fence that separates the Vatican from the rest of Rome, all asking me questions at the same time. I was suddenly extremely glad I have a reasonable command of Italian. It made a big difference.
Among the many questions they grilled me with, they were particularly interested to know if I was with…sneer…Church Militant. I could honestly say no.
Gee, two middle aged ladies distributing free books about the Mass…how frightening!!! I can certainly understand that if they let every Tom, Dick and Harry come and do whatever they wanted near Piazza San Pietro, then it would be a riot all the time.
Strange, though, when you consider what’s been going on not far from the Vatican, in the Carmelite church of Transpontina. (And today being the feast of St. Teresa too! She must be rolling in her grave…) I’m tempted to post pictures but…I won’t. You’ve probably already seen them anyway.
And in fairness, they weren’t gruff or mean or anything, just…Italian. None of them could agree what was the best thing to do…and some of them were quite nice, saying “What’s the problem? It’s a nice book, they’re giving it away free, why not let her?”
But that was not to be.
We were directed to the government offices to get a leafleting permit. We arrived at the building and were told to go to the second floor…where there was no clear direction as to which long line to stand in. No one we asked knew, no one who worked there would answer us, and so we had to make our best guess and stand in the line that seemed most promising. Then…they closed for two hours for lunch. The “take a number” system wasn’t working, so…we just had to come back and start the line all over again at 2.
By this time it was pouring rain and I realized I had forgotten to bring the books themselves for approval, so I had to run back to our apartment in the rain…a solid 15 minute walk. I was soaked despite my umbrella. But I faithfully returned and stood in line for another two hours, only to be told that we couldn’t get a permit because 1) we didn’t have an Italian tax number (yeah I know we’re not selling them, doesn’t matter I guess…) 2) the books don’t have this “no littering” symbol stamped on them:
OK, no problem, I’ll print up stickers and put them on.
Nope. No stickers. Only a stamp.
So…we now have little choice but to do one or both of two things: 1) Follow the yellow brick road and get the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West; 2) Find other means of distributing these books.
Tune in to our next segment to find out what happens…