Termini Imerese Stories

Father Delisi's Chronicles of his trip to Termini Imerese, September 2002


Chronicle #4. Visit to Cerca and Cefalu
Sept. 28,2002
Since we could not get to the files at the Cathedral during this weekend, we decided to do some traveling. Chuck drove Gloria and me in the rented Fiat to the home town of Gloria's grandfather located on the other side of Monte San Calogero which dominates the eastern view of Termini.
The town of Cerca is located about 15 miles southeast of Termini. The scenery along the serpent like road gives one a new view of the terrene of inland Sicily and also another perspective of Monte San Calogero.
The town of Cerca is built on a hill and its Cathedral is closed for repairs. Gloria struggled to get someone to understand that her grandfather came from this town. In a short time we were surrounded by four of the police officers trying to speak what few words of English they knew and we struggling with our very limited knowledge of Italian.
One woman officer had dyed red hair. No longer do the Sicilian women stand out with their shining black hair. Now the women have turned to looking more northern European with their dyed hair and teenage boys with stiff hair standing up like a porcupine. Gloria looked more Sicilian than the Sicilians themselves.
Two officers drove us to their cemetery which was much like a little city with paved walks, different than the cemetery at Termini. They invited Gloria to come back the following week when the courthouse would be open.
While we were waiting for a pizza to be baked at a bar, Gloria flagged down some boys on motor scooters and struck up a real friendship and the exchange of e-mail addresses. She has a gift for communicating with youth who were struggling to learn English at school.
From there we went to Cefalu. To me, this is the most attractive city in the world with its 12th century cathedral at the highest point and then with a cliff behind it. The Cathedral did not open till 3:30 pm so I read to Chuck and Gloria my first draft of Chronicle #1.
Promptly at 3:30 the gates swung open and we entered to behold the greatest "Pantocrator" in this world. Jesus above us as Judge and ruler of the universe. For nine centuries our forefathers came to this gem to worship and stand before this sacred image within this cathedral built by King Roger in 1131 A.D.
This mosaic of Christ far surpasses the stern image of the "Pantocrator" of Moriale or the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, and yet it is older. As Gloria said pointing to her ring, "It is like a diamond set in a simple golden band." Around this image of Jesus are the Latin words, "Factus homo, factor hominis, facteque redemptor. Judio corporeus corpora corde Deus." This poetic Latin phrase is very difficult to translate without loosing something. It goes something like this: "I became man, who made man, and made Redeemer. With a human body I judge the human heart as God."
In his left hand Jesus hold an open book with words written in Latin and Greek, a text from John 8:12. "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Through this Mosaic, Jesus is speaking to our hearts. This was a place of place of pilgrimage for our forefathers and now a place of pilgrimage for me. Is there any wonder that I use this image as screen saver on my computer, and also have a copy hung in my office.
This is the image of Jesus that makes us face the reality of life. Before him we will all one day stand, or rather fall is worship. For now he speaks to us from this image, so filled with power, and yet filled with words of compassion and love.

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