Padre Pio is in the news again, in case you haven’t heard. His decomposed body, which was disinterred last month, has been fitted with a wax face and put on display at San Giovanni Rotondo, for reasons that some of the faithful might comprehend but that baffle the infidel. Really, who is in charge of this stuff? Who placed the order with Madame Tussaud’s? What bishop or cardinal made the crucial decision of how to clothe the cadaver? Puglia is apparently hoping for an influx of tourists to rival the throngs at Lourdes. I’ve always wanted to see i trulli, the beehive-shaped white domiciles of southern Italy, but I think I can put off the pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo to eyeball Padre Pio’s remains until . . . well, pretty much forever.
My red Padre Pio Topolino T-shirt, in the meantime, has been reduced to a fourth-classic relic: not a bone, not something the saint touched, just something that came in contact with something the saint purportedly sat in, in this case a Mercedes-Benz, which had probably been detailed and sanitized by the dealer, with no regard for conserving the molecular sanctity of the upholstery. Also, my fourth-class relic is now doubly diluted, because the last time I did the laundry I thoughtlessly tossed it into the washing machine with the dark load. I hate washing things by hand. I was, however, careful not to put it in the drier, segregating it, along with my bras, to hang dry or lie flat. Some flakes of detergent had stuck to it, but, miraculously, I was able to brush them off.
I guess I’ll wear the shirt today, as long as it’s in the news. Here are links to the Times story that ran yesterday and a YouTube video, if you can stand it.