|Don Guido, on the left, with Don Francesco|
has died. Which is very sad. Not only has he been here for as long as we have, but, at the age of 97, and incumbent Priest at Santa Caterina for the past 72 years, since 1944, I should think he's been around for longer than anybody in Pisa has. Practically, literally.
He stepped down from full-time duties several years ago, and his parish responsibilities were shared out at that time between several other 'Dons' - although not necessarily to good effect; on one occasion, I heard one parishioner agree with another that Don Roberto was such a tedious windbag that he was going to attend mass at San Francesco that evening, instead of at Santa Caterina. Don Roberto has subsequently gone off to be the Bishop of Pescia, where I imagine he is spreading his own particular version of the good word - or, as the people here would have it 'going on, a bit' - and Don Francesco has been confirmed as full time successor in Don Guido's place. Don Guido stayed on in the priest's house, however, and his stooped figure was occasionally to be seen heading off at great speed down the piazza in the direction of the post office, almost as though he had an outboard motor fitted under his cassock, like some close relative of the duracell bunny.
I remember one occasion, several years ago, when the Technical Department was doing something to the watering system and was working, effectively hidden, in amongst a thicket of bamboo near the garden gate. Scuffle was keeping him company, and, as the elderly dog that he was at that time, he was lying just inside the gate, idly contemplating the World beyond - just in case. Don Guido materialised, on his way to the campo, and, not seeing the Technical Department in the undergrowth he stopped to have a chat with the dog, and to compliment him on what an excellent job he was doing keeping watch on everything. Before Don Guido moved on, they appeared to converse quite happily, and at some length - a couple of silvery old codgers, senior citizens moving slowly through the evening of life.
Although it isn't usual for a parish priest to have the title 'Monsignor', Don Guido was accorded it by the church as a special honour, and he was quite rightly held in high general esteem. He will be much missed.