In 1965 I took an airplane for the first time in my life, to join my first love F. in Sicily where he came from. I had met him in Brussels at a ball of the Commun Market. He stayed with his parents in Messina and I wanted to join him there for my holidays.
In 1966 Sicily was very far from tourisme and the country was very poor. People still imigrated to the States and Mario Puzzo was probably just busy writing his book "The Godfather" (it was published in 1969). The Mafia was everywhere although I didn't know. Only years later there were many things which I suddenly understood.
Most of the people were illiterate, especially in little towns or on the countryside. One day we decided to go into the mountains and found a charming little village with an old well and thought it was a good opportunity to wash the car. There were not many fountains around and the way up to this hidden village was just beautiful. I had a sight all over Messina, until Italy on the other side of the sea.
When we got out of the car, the village looked deserted and nobody seemed to live here. Suddenly people came out of the houses and approached. They didn't say anything and just starred at us. I didn't know what to do so I sat on a bench besides the fountain. I have to say I looked really very extraterrestrial to them with my blond hair and my tall height. People here were all short and very dark and some of them had an arabic look. Apparently they had never seen a blond woman.
While F. started washing the car, suddenly women all dressed in black and of all ages appeared with their children and the dogs were joining too. I wore a light blue white dotted organza flounced dress which was very fashionable at this time. The flounces were on the skirt and sleeves and in these surroundings it looked rather unreal.
Suddenly an old woman shouted : " Un angelo" I didn't understand what she said but suddenly I was surrounded by all the women. I asked F what happened and he laughed and said : "They take you for an angel " I thought he was joking and just wanted to point my finger on my forehead when the women started to touch my dress, my arms and hair.
Now I got nervous I didn't like this at all. Men came too and joined the women. There was a fairly large crowd around us all chatting together. Suddenly a young woman came to me and wanted to give me her baby, I just wanted to refuse when F told me to better take it.
I was 23 and not really a specialist in baby holding but I tried to do my best and not drop it and sat there helpless with the baby in my arms. The woman said something. I asked what she had said. To my surprise he started to laugh hiding his head in the car so that nobody saw him laughing and told me that I should bless the baby ! Bless the baby ! I thought I had misunderstood but apparently not, because the woman smiled at me and pointed at the sleeping baby.
I told F. that I couldn't do it that this was completely crazy, but he stopped laughing pointed his eyes to the men and said : "you better do". Indeed the men looked quite hostile. So I gathered all my church knowledge, made the sign of a cross on the baby's front and stroke over his head and sincerely hoped that I did it well. There was no other choice, we were far away from civilization and it could be quite dangerous. After 3 or 4 babies I felt much better and even started to find the situation very amusing. When I had finished my cross signs with the babies, the toddlers came and then the small children and I continued my blessings.
Apparently I did my job well, because when the old women started and wanted to be blessed too I refused and asked F. to tell them that I was only entitled to bless children. I don't know what for a story he told them, but they stepped back.
A big hullaballoo started; they pulled me up and led me to the houses and I really got scared with all these laughing and screaming people around me. But the only thing they wanted was to invite us and thank me. Finally we went to the village place and they all came and brought tables and chairs and the best food they had. I wasn't hungry and also ashamed to accept food knowing that they themselves had hardly something to eat, but F. told me that I could not refuse if I didn't want to provoke a riot.
So we sat down under olive trees at a huge table and I had the best food I ever had and the best wine too !
Nobody payed attention that I didn't speak, they probably thought that angels don't, but I couldn't understand a word because Sicilian and Italian is completely different and my Italian was very limited at that time.
When years later I read the "Godfather" I had to think about my adventure as an angel ! Indeed it could have been dangerous. Many "strangers" had disappeared at that time.