From the place where we live there is a beautiful view of the center of Rome. Saint Peter’s Basilica is literally in the reach of our hands, just two kilometers away from us. Like many times before during the quarantine, I stand by the fence and look in the direction of the Basilica. It’s late afternoon. Inert clouds halt in the sky – heavy, tired, weary. The sun has been hiding somewhere far behind them. It’s trying to penetrate its rays through the thick clumps of clouds and illuminate the Eternal City, but all its efforts contribute only to the creation of some eerie light. I continue to look at the Basilica, trying to fix my gaze on the dome. The picture is obscure. It was like a mild mist which appeared and blurred my view. The Basilica is slowly losing its life colour.
There is something strange about the wind that has suddenly started blowing. It fits in perfectly with this whole orchestra of spooky atmosphere. What secrets does it carry through the empty streets of Rome with its breath? Where does it come from and where does it go? Why do I feel its caress on my face like a slap? I look down at the nearby streets within my sight. I try to find traces of life in them. In the distance I have only seen a few individuals moving slowly. They look like the lost ants who don’t know where to go next.
I try to invite images of past events into my mind. How long has it been since I walked the streets of Rome carelessly in the evening the last time? How I just enjoyed my “research ventures” around the town. Sometimes I felt like I was in a big maze with no way out. At the end of my adventures I would always, by some winding roads, somehow arrive to Saint Peter’s Square. The Basilica seemed so powerful and magnificent as I would watch it from direct proximity. In front of its size, I felt so small. After sunset, it remained our light in the darkness and impressed with her monumentality.
The melancholy catches my mind because those evening walks are just faded memories now. I look at the Basilica, which now seems to me so far away and unreachable. Two kilometers turned into a vast expanse. There is now a huge chasm of emptiness between us. The sun is now completely gone and the clouds are getting darker. The wind is singing a song without a voice. It blows stronger and takes away with itself the scents of memory. How has it all come to that? God, do you have an answer to the questions that pile up in my heart?
I close my eyes and try to find peace within myself. I remain in that recollection for a few moments. I want to drive away the sad thoughts and put them to sleep like a little child. I say a silent prayer. Then, a saving thought comes to me: My reality is here now – on the other side of the fence and I have to face it. I must not remain trapped in the thoughts of the past. With my right hand I reach into the left interior pocket of my jacket. Under my fingers I can feel the beads of the rosary which is always close to my heart. Suddenly, a strong sense of hope fills me and joy comes back to my chest. With a broad smile I greet the city lying in front of me and wave my hand at Saint Peter’s Basilica. I turn and begin to pray the rosary walking through the small garden inside my quarantine. Already after the first decade I look again in the direction of the Vatican: The wind has silenced, the air is clear again, and I can now clearly see Saint Peter’s Basilica.