August 24

An Elegy to St. Andrew’s

While it has been several decades since I believed in the religion practiced within its walls, I couldn’t help but feel sad when I heard that Calgary’s former Italian church was up for sale. I wrote a short piece about the old church, and my family’s relationship to it, that appears in Swerve Magazine. The story can be found online here.

In the story, I mention my great aunt Assunta and the roses she tended behind the church rectory – roses my grandfather snipped from a bush back in Italy and smuggled into Calgary. Here is a photo of Zia Assunta and those roses:

Assunta alone

I also wrote about the fresco of the Last Supper that hung insider the church. Trento Longaretti, the same artist responsible for the beautiful mosaics above the church doors, painted this fresco. The painting confused me as a kid; I thought that the pouch of silver pieces Judas held on his lap was a large onion. The fresco now hangs in the new Italian Church, Our Lady of Grace, which opened in 1985. Here is Longaretti’s painting:


Sooner or later, the church will be demolished. I am sure that condos will rise in its place. While I have no spiritual affiliation to the place anymore, I will be sad to see it go.