One’s Word is One’s Word

By Nicola Nicolò

A promise is an obligation (a duty) even to oneself. This memory too starts on 2nd September 1945, when a large number of ex-servicemen who had survived the war returned, lacking only those "few" still in Russia. When "disbanding" had ended, a word coined on 8th September 1943, throughout Italy, at any time of night or day men returned home from the most disparate zones of war: from Greece, from Yugoslavia, from France and from the other fronts. At the end of this period, every family from which someone had not returned from the war began to be convinced that the dear one had died. From this the idea was born in our women, mothers and wives with their rosaries in their hands, of going every evening to pray at the little church of Saint Antonio (before the Germans exploded a mine inside it, reducing it to rubble). This took place every evening until 2nd September 1945.

I returned on 2nd September 1945 too and that first day, after I had recounted many things, my mother came up to me and I could foresee from her attitude that it was for something very serious. She also called my wife and in front of lots of people she said to me: "Nicò, one’s word is one’s word and every promise is an obligation". She wanted to tell me that we had to go to Padua to thank Saint Antonio[1] because he had granted her - and also many other mothers and wives - the favour of mercy. "Of course we shall go," was my reply, the same reply that was given in so many homes in Torricella.

I had never forgotten that promise but none of us in Torricella was able to keep it for obvious reasons of an economic nature. March 1976; a manifesto arrived at the Italian Alpine Troops’ headquarters in Pescara which indicated that there would be a National rally on the 14th of May at Padua. I lost no time, the next Sunday I went to Torricella and spoke with "Mischiarello", the late lamented Nicola D’Ulisse, and in just one day we spoke with all the other Alpine Troops who also were debtors for that "One’s Word is a Promise". With the help of De Laurentis Pietrantonio, who lived in Padua, we booked a hotel at Abano and on the 15th May 1976 ex-Alpine Soldiers, wives, mothers and sons were all kneeling in front of Saint Antonio. Forced by the others it was my turn to pronounce the phrase: "Saint Antonio, one’s word is one’s word, we have upheld the promise that we made to you. Better late than never."

One’s word is one’s word; a promise is an obligation (a duty) even to oneself.

Translator's notes:

[1] They needed to go to Padua because that is where the main Church, the Sanctuary, dedicated to Saint Antonio is situated.

Having prayed so hard in their time of need they would have felt as if they had made a vow and part of completing the vow involves a sort of pilgrimage to the seat of the Saint. People would ask their chosen Saint to grant them a favour, in this case the safe return of their sons from the War - and in return would promise the Saint to go and honour him/her with a prayer in his own Sanctuary. This is the basis for the whole premise of this article. Often whilst at the Sanctuary people would make an offering, usually money, and also buy images of the Saint there.

These ladies chose to pray to Saint Antony for their own personal reasons – people have their own preferences as to which Saint to pray to; a few people have more than one Saint to whom they pray, with different Saints for different things.

© Amici di Torricella

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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