Chapter 54: “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”

I like saying the rosary at night as I lay in bed hopeful for sleep.

I recite the rosary for two reasons. First, as an insomniac, I fall asleep within two decades into the rosary. Second, for us Calabresi, if we fall asleep before the rosary is finished, our angelo custode finishes it for us.

Not really! But it sounds like it would be a Calabrese custom and maybe it is!

My favorite time to recite the rosary is when I take my favorite hike in the world along the Cinqueterre trail in Liguria, the region that hugs the Mediterranean like no other. I stop at Vernazza, the fourth of the five towns, in the mid afternoon and I enter the Romanesque-style church perched at the end of the tiny harbor. Always at this time, the women of the village pray the rosary in a chant-like fashion. A-v-e M-a-r-i-a, p-i-e-n-a d-i g-r-a-z-i-a . . . I sit behind them and pray along with them–my soul comforted as well as my exhausted legs.

At the end of the rosary, the village women exit the church eyeballing me–a man who invaded their sacred pace. Italian men don’t generally chant the rosary with old women. Italian men generally don’t even go to church anymore–except in the Mezzogiorno.

Even though I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, the rosary holds me hypnotically, like prayer for a Buddhist monk. In fact, it was only in a Buddhist temple in Da Nang, Vietnam, that I reached this zen-like state. If I pray the rosary when I drive, my road rage disappears–or at least almost.

I know that my nonna recited the rosary while rocking me to sleep as a baby. It inevitably stopped by crying and calmed my soul. Maybe, it isn’t too far-fetched to think that she now finishes my rosary when I fall asleep.

She is after all my angelo custode, my guardian angel.


About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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One Response to Chapter 54: “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”

  1. I love praying the rosary with you!

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