I had been touring some of the grandest cathedrals in Italy but at the moment, I was standing inside a small obscure chapel in Florence. It was rather unimpressive compared to some of the gaudy monstrosities that we’d encountered thus far. Most people would never have even known it was there. I had come to see a few hidden treasures by Fabriano Gentile.
As I gazed at the art, the chapel’s proprietor – an elegant, older Italian woman – shared an occurrence that had taken place there about 30 years prior. At the time, the church was run by a priest who lived in a small apartment above the chapel. The young man awoke one night to a strange noise. He peered down through a small window that opened from his quarters onto the chapel below. He was shocked to discover his church being actively baptized under four feet of murky flood water. Pews and altars floated freely in the muck. Clutched in a panic and no doubt hoping for a miracle, he grabbed a flashlight and rushed down the stairs.
When he arrived at the bottom, he plunged into the filthy liquid. As he proceeded downward, the freezing waters swirled around him, rising well above his waist. The priest waded through the swamp, surveying the damage and searching desperately for anything he could save. Pews bobbed freely in the muck. Tapestries inflated with muddy water. Candles shifted ominously atop floating tables. One priceless altar had floated away from the wall entirely and was involved in a life-sized game of sacrilegious Pinball. This precious relic was clearly in immediate danger of breaking apart, as it drifted around the chapel. In an attempt to preserve the piece from further damage, the priest made his way over to it, hoping to secure it somehow.
As he approached, he realized that behind the 18th century altar was what appeared to be a mural. Later, after the flood waters had receded, experts discovered it to be a rare and priceless 14th century fresco. This revelation led to the uncovering of additional lost masterpieces, hidden behind the paneling all over the building.
It just goes to show that sometimes a disaster can be a blessing in disguise. Everyone was happy with that little chapel just the way it was. It was nice and functional. It even had a beautiful, 18th century altar adorning its interior. No one knew what treasures lay hidden within its walls.
I guess sometimes it takes a disaster to shake up your life and get you to dig a little deeper, to look a little closer, to explore a little further. Sure, it’s painful. Everything gets all wet and starts smelling like ancient, Italian sewer water. But who knows? You might unearth something amazing.
This is the latest installment in my story. If you haven’t yet read the previous entries, click here to start at the beginning. Then continue to read each post in numerical order.