The Transfiguration of the Lord

The Duomo of Volterra. The tourists wander back and forth aimlessly, reading in bad translation a description of the minor masterpieces. Then, through a half-open door of a side chapel, I see a biretta’d priest shifting through a door, his gold vestments aglow in the half-light. Half guilty, I follow him through the door. He is saying Mass. Tridentine. Half a dozen in the chapel.

This Mass, half – almost wholly – forgotten, so rare. An image into boyhood past of vague memories and long silence. The priest is French but his homily so quiet, so distant. Like all this Mass that I scarcely hear, save an injunction to prayer, and talk of Elijah and tents. Does Peter want them there to pray in peace? The Mass continues in long silence and quiet Latin, the Host is raised. Communion taken reverently, kneeling on the tongue. I, the last of the six.

I leave past the aimless picture stores and out in the glaring heat of the piazza. I dodge out and think of the long silence in that chapel. I never saw the priest leave. Was he there?