Rorate strikes again: How don Camillo blocked the removal of an altar

Oh would that we had more parish priests like don Camillo.  Would that fictional characters could be canonized!

Our friends at Rorate have another great entry today about how Guareschi’s character "don Camillo" strove to block the destruction of an altar:

…two days later, the Bishop’s secretary plunged into Don Camillo’s office. The young priest, like all the progressive priests of the Aggiornamento, despised and detested all parish priests…

"Reverend Father!" he ranted. "Is it possible that you lie in wait for opportunities to show your obtuseness as regards political and social matters involving the Church? What is the meaning of this latest sideshow of yours? Quite rightly Mayor Botazzi intends to encourage tourism and adapt the town to the needs of the motorized times — and to do this he wants to create an ample parking lot here in the square. How can you have the arrogance to oppose this project?"

"No arrogance at all: I’m simply preventing the destruction of Church property."

"What Church property! You can’t clutter half a town square with useless columns. Don’t you understand what an advantage it will be to you? Aren’t you aware that many people don’t come to Mass because they can’t find a place to park their cars?"

"Certainly I know that," Don Camillo answered calmly. "However, I don’t believe the mission of a pastor of souls should be to organize parking lots and rock Masses to provide the public with a religion complete with all the modern conveniences. The Christian religion is not, and should not be, either comfortable or amusing."

His point of view was a bit hackneyed and it caused the Bishop’s priest to explode. "My dear Father, you appear not to have grasped that the Church must attempt to bring itself up to date, and it should be helping progress, not blocking it!"

There was no point in arguing with such an old fossil, so the secretary wound up the discussion. "Don Camillo, are you saying that you refuse to obey?"


You’ll have to go over to Rorate to read the rest.  Tell ’em Fr. Z sent you.

Take note that in one of the comments some dolt, bravely posting as "anonymous" wrote:  "What a load of contrived bunk." 

Were I don Camillo, I would be reaching for my shotgun.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Marty says:

    Fr. Z, can you recommend a reading list of Don Camillo in an chronological order? I’d like to start, but don’t know where to begin!

    Vivat Jesus

  2. Marty: It is best to begin at the beginning. If you read Italian would try to get Il piccolo mondo di don Camillo, or in English The Little World Of Don Camillo.  The Italian books and English titles don’t conincide.  Some were assembled specifically for English readers and one book by Guareschi was actually written in English, if I remember correctly.  But start with the one I link.

    What amazes me is that these fantastic books were originally released chapter by chapter, Dickens-like, in  newpaper and then put together in book form.  Guareschi built up this “little world” much like fellows such as Garrison Keillor built up Lake Wobegon in Minnesota.  But the Guareschi world by far outshines anything Keillor ever did from the point of view of ethics and social commentary.  I stand in awe of what he did.  Zillions of years ago I did at COL Forum a little of that myself with a brief stint of episodes of the doings of a fictional parishes in a small town in reaction to the horrendous proposal of the fictional “ideal”parish which implements Card. Mahony’s Gather Faithfully Together: St. Idealia and St. Fidelia.  But I stand in awe of Guareschi.

  3. elizabeth mckernan says:

    For fans of ‘Don Camillo’ there is an excellent 20 minute extract from ‘Le retour de Don Camillo’ on the French video site of ‘Daily Motion’. Starring the great Fernandel in the title role it features some of his little gems of conversations with God and includes the moving scene where he is weighed down trying to carry a very large crucifix through the snow. I believe the film dates from 1952 or 1953 so of course shows ‘Don Camillo’ in cassock and saturno.

  4. Carlos says:

    If I remember it well, Don Camillo had a machine gun, not a shotgun. :)

  5. Jacques says:

    Certainly Don Camillo and Pagnol’s movies which he starred in, made Fernandel the most popular actor in France and peculiarly in the Marseille’s area where I am living.
    Of course, Fernandel wasn’t a saint but he surpassed himself in Don camillo’s role because he was a sincere Catholic and he remembered well his young years when religion and catechism were more important than soccer and TV.
    The Christ’s voice in the French version of Don Camillo movies was that of Pierre Gaxotte of the Académie Française, a sweet and gentle voice full of love that sounded the truth.
    I can imagine that Jesus will speak to me like that when I die.

  6. Richard T says:

    Remember how this story starts, a few chapters before, when a young priest is sent out to enforce the Novus Ordo:

    “The fact was, in Don Camillo’s church there was still an old-fashioned altar, at which Don Camillo persisted in celebrating the Mass in Latin. And the faithful continued to take Communion kneeling in front of the altar rail with its little columns of marble painted to look like fake marble. All the other churches of the diocese had substituted their altars with what Don Camillo not very respectfully chose to call “buffet tables”; but inside Don Camillo’s church, nothing had changed at all. It was precisely this intransigence that had caused the Curia, before it took more serious disciplinary steps, to send the stubborn parish priest of the Po valley a young priest whose job it would be to persuade the old reactionary to install the changes of the aggiornamento.”

    But all ends well, just as it will in the real Church (although in the stories the happy ending doesn’t have to wait for 40 years):

    (PS – Carlos, the machine gun (which I think he took from the Communists to stop them putting their souls into peril by shooting someone) was kept well hidden except in emergencies; the shotgun was for everyday use)

  7. An American Mother says:

    Dear Don Camillo!

    Just to show that God moves in mysterious ways, that splendid embodiment of Muscular Christianity was a favorite read of mine as a child, long before my conversion.

    Brick by brick, as Fr. Z is fond of saying. Don Camillo was one of the influences that, in retrospect, steadily and inexorably herded me into the Church.

    BTW, he not only had a machine gun, he also had a tommygun (which he tied to the handlebars of his bicycle) as well as the shotgun (for hunting purposes – he acquires a splendid bird dog in one of the stories) and also a pistol (if that be “the small object which he just happened to have in his pocket” when he confronts a stranger on a bridge at night).

    Read any of them. Read them all. They’re wonderful. The scene on the boat in the storm in Comrade Don Camillo is alone worth the price of admission (I won’t give any more away.)

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