We had many visitors at the college and it was not rare for a member of the hierarchy either from the states or Italy to say Mass and then have dinner with the student priests. On one occasion we had an Italian Bishop who was diminutive in size but exceptionally warm and friendly. He spoke English to some degree,but there were certain words that were well intentioned but sounded differently when the Bishop pronounced them.
After dinner he stood up at the head table and wished to give his blessing not only to us but to our families and the world at large. At one point his intention was to convey peace to those assembled as well as our mothers, fathers, brothers sisters and the entire world. The word peace was difficult for him to pronounce and he gleefully began his blessing by in a loud voice saying.”Piss on you,Piss on your mother, piss on your father and piss on your family,piss on everybody. Needless to say the blood was running down our cheeks as we did not wish to offend this kind soul who was wishing peace on everyone but after he left his singular blessing was shared by many of us as we encountered each other for days to come.
Another momentous occasion occurred the following week when a group of us attended a public audience by the pope in Saint Peter’s basilica. In the middle of the pope’s words there was a commotion in the back of the basilica and the police rushed in and with a great show of force carried a man outside. The story was that in the middle of the crowd the man had exposed himself and was apparently. trying to press against a young woman. The woman screamed and initially other pilgrims intervened and held him until the police arrived. We later learned through the grapevine that his defense in the magistrate’s court was that he was so taken by the Holy Father’s words that he could not breathe. In an effort to stop from fainting he loosened his pants and his private part just slipped out. After the entire court howled at this ingenious defense the magistrate levied a very severe sentence.