Log-book: September 2004

  Visit to a prisoner A wedding by the river
  A meeting in presence of Eugen Drewermann 




The Bible

Special Edition

Visit to a prisoner

Paolo Persichetti His Parisian friends and his lawyer had invited me to visit him in prison in Viterbo, in the north of Rome. His name is Paolo Persichetti. I had defended him with Abbé Pierre in 1995 at a memorable press conference at the House of Human Rights while he was on a hunger strike at the Sante jail in Paris.
Paolo was living in Paris and was teaching at the University. Then, unexpectedly, he was arrested and extradited to Italy.

After I had obtained the authorisation to visit him, I left for Rome. His friends had offered the ticket for the trip to me.
In Rome, where it was oppressively hot at this time of the summer, I first went to visit his mother: Maria, a fine woman, who was visiting her son in prison once a week.
I then took the train to go to Viterbo. A train making many stops: 1 hour and a half for 80 km (50 M).

In the economy class where I was, a family of gypsies entered the compartment and since then their three boys left no peace to the other travelers. The eldest of the boys proudly had the same surname as myself: " Giacomo ". I guessed we were all going to the same place: the prison of Mammagialla. The family had left their home at 5 am and would return only at 6 pm. A long journey for just an hour of visit!
In Viterbo, I had to find a car to drive me to the prison that was outside of the city. Finally, I arrived in a deserted area where the great walls of the prison suddenly appeared.

After going through the usual procedures, I entered in the large visiting room: six tables were waiting, one for each prisoner.  

à la prison

Paolo arrived first walking quickly. He was smiling and visibly happy. He did not look his 42 years of age. I found him in a better shape than myself.
At a certain point, I talked to him about his mother. His eyes clouded with tears.
The voices were ringing out in the visiting room which made listening difficult. My gypsy friends were speaking the loudest!
A policeman came over to tell me my time was up.

par amitié I took a taxi with a woman who had come to visit a friend in prison. She asked me: " is the prisoner a member of your family? A friend? " " No, I replied, out of solidarity ". " Then, you did right " she said.  

The next morning, Maria was there to drive me to the airport.






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A wedding by the river
Brian and Linda had been living together for many years. They have decided to get married and have asked me to bless their wedding. 

le mariage

A wedding by the river, in the middle of nature. Both of them were aware it is their own celebration and they had prepared carefully every detail of the ceremony.

cadre magique The scene had a touch of magic. The ceremony was held in the fading light of the evening, at the sound of music while the trees were sheltering us of their long shadows. The river was flowing majestically.  
The ambiance was very friendly and every body seemed at ease. There was no need for a welcome committee. Nature belongs to every body.
The bride and groom made their arrival accompanied by their children. They were the first to speak to welcome their guests, emphasizing the importance of the symbols: the water, the light, the earth and the spiritual nature of their wedding.

The children, one after the other came forward to say without notes the significance of the desires composing the celebration:

le désir The desire of the bird, is the heaven,
The desire of the hand, is to caress,
The desire of the ear, is the music,
The desire of the eyes, is a rainbow,
The desire of the lips, is a kiss,
The desire of the faith, is the infinity
The desire of the being, is God.
When a desire is born, then the celebration can begin…

The tone was given to the celebration. There was no need for the ritual clothes or the rites. Words and gestures followed on from each other and had their significance.
The Gospel was going through a revival with this gathering of people who were no longer churchgoers.



A meeting in presence of Eugen Drewermann

Katholikentag The Katholikentag, the great gathering of the German Catholics, was held in Ulm in Baden-Württemberg. I was delighted to be a speaker next to Eugen Drewermann for the opening conference attended by a great number of people of which a few bishops.  

We spoke in front of this assembly for two hours and a half.
The theme of the conference was: " the future of the clergy ". I would have preferred another theme more appropriate for the crowd that was there.

Eugen Drewermann seemed happy and relaxed. 

E.Drewerman et J.Gaillot

I started off by thanking the organizers of the Katholikentag to have invited both of us to speak. I paid tribute to this institution for taking the liberty of inviting us for this occasion. Such liberty would not have been possible in France.

It was a good meeting. We did not try to improve the structures but rather to suggest new ways for the future.