June 17, 2012

Italy Fail

"All right, if the applicant is young, tell him he's too young. Old, too old. Fat, too fat. If the applicant then waits for three days without food, shelter, or encouragement he may then enter and begin his training." (Tyler Durden)

Rides on the subway, two trains and a bus later, I'm back in Assisi after my long weekend in Rome. Unfortunately, my first attempt at obtaining the coveted permesso di soggiorno--the official permission of the Republic of Italy to stay here--was not a success. In fact, the whole business was, as we say, a glorious maladventure. After Morning Prayer and Mass at the Curia on Friday morning, I set out with the kind and patient friar who has been my Roman guide and interpreter. We had a long, hot bus ride through awful traffic, and finally arrived outside St. Peter's Square. After crossing through the Square, we arrived at the police station about an hour early for my 'scheduled' appointment at 10:03. I took a number. Standing outside with us were various other foreign sisters and priests. We waited. After some time the first number I heard called was a few past the one I was holding, so I displayed my lower number and was invited to come to the window.

I carefully presented my passport, along with the packet of documents, letters, stamps, and receipts, along with two photocopies of each document, letter, stamp, and receipt. After but a few seconds, the officious gentleman informed us that my papers were catastrophically out of order and thus my case could not proceed in any way. My confrere protested that we had prepared the papers in this way because this was the way it was insisted upon for the last friar for whom an application was made, after the papers prepared in the way the official was now demanding were rejected as out of order. Not only was the man unimpressed by the announcement of this apparent discrepancy in protocol, but it made him even more cross, and he dismissed me with another appointment for next month and a further paper which would have to be stamped at the post office after paying another 100 euro, and which had to brought back the next time, along with the two photocopies of the same.

P.s.: a small examination of conscience. After I put up this post I went to the chapel for the period of common meditation before Vespers. There I got to thinking that I ought to be praying for all of my fellow migrating and displaced people, especially for those who lack the securities that free me to make fun of these frustrations and difficulties. So that's what I did, and what I will continue to do in my life as a foreigner.


Phoebe said...

Good grief!

Marc said...

You'll get used it, ahem. :-)

Your Friend Aaron said...

As a Canadian with several misadventures in obtaining similar papers for the US, this sounds exactly, precisely, and exactly the same as everything I've been through. I truly feel for you.

"Do this. Bring these."
"Why did you do this? Who told you to bring these? I am unreasonable and angry!"

(I am currently in Canada, working on obtaining a new visa. This could take a while.)

Metaphysical Catholic said...

I wonder how many of those 100 Euros kicks back to the grumpy guy at the window?

Cloister said...

An so you come to the world of the displaced. Jesus was displaced. Mary and Joseph were displaced. I am displaced. To be a Christian is to be displaced. Welcome home. xx

Greg said...


It is clear to me the Minister General covertly hired bureaucrats to administer the dreaded humility index.

If one passes the well-known humility index, one receives a lifetime visa to Assisi. (And a bottle of Umbrian wine.)

This also explains the inspiring work of Friar Murray Bodo who coined the phrase "the Face of a Franciscan" while at an airport.

He walked the terminals imparting a look of love to all he passed - the gift of the Face of a Franciscan.

This task was no doubt completed at the Kafka Int'l Airport (see video) where escape from the Gulag is contingent upon demonstrating the Face of a Franciscan.

I love the video! Step aside Chevy Chase, the new European Vacation sequel will feature a friar in Kafka land.

Benedicta said...

If God permits, My husband and I are passing through this particular airport this coming October. Hopefully everything will be OK.