In 1689 a donkey pulled a cart over cobblestone streets in the little Sicilian village of Savoca. Allesandro, a hunchback, emerged from the back as a woman secured the reigns.
“Papa, the sun’s rising. We must set the stage before the people come, or it will not be affective.”
The old man slurred something, the girl seemed to understand.
Caterina climbed into the back of the cart and began changing into her blue velvet costume. Pulling a blonde wig over her curls, she emerged. Allesandro tugged on a rope inside the cart. The side of the cart went straight up, and part of the top opened. Velvet curtains matching Caterina’s dress decorated the side of the cart.
Allesandro and Caterina spent months on the roads that connected villages on the eastern coast of Sicily. Disguise was their element of survival, performances were their means of communication to the Sicilian people, and sacrifice was their chosen lifestyle.
Allesandro climbed awkwardly to the top of the wooden cart. Caterina climbed back inside to hand up the wooden marionettes. She took her place outside by the curtain waiting for Savoca, and the little wooden people handled by her father, to come alive.
Caterina prayed for God’s voice in her own. She prayed for Him to take the scales off the eyes of the people, and she prayed for safety. Soon many were gathered around waiting for a show. She smiled at curious onlookers, pulled the curtain back and began singing an original puppet opera, as the marionette Renato danced.
Dear Renato, Dear Renato
Come and see, come and see.
Valentino, has a plan
To see you free, see you free.
“I’ll not come, I’ll not come
For it could be, it could be
No more than, no more than
A plan of trickery.”
(Puppet Rosa enters)
“Do not believe, not believe,
I have heard he tells a story
‘til you grieve, ‘til you grieve
Your heart empty, empty!
Come with me, come with me
I’ll show you pleasures dreams,
Pleasures dreams, not empty.”
But Renato did not leave.
(Puppet Rosa exits. Puppet Valentino enters.)
“Dear Renato, Dear Renato,
Here are you, here are you.
I have something grand to show.
He has come to rescue you!
My Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,
He is God’s Son who paid
Who paid the price, paid the price
For you to pray, be not afraid.
He is your substutite
Who died a bloody death,
Had no sins to repute
And forgave in His last breaths.
Dear Renato, Renato,
That is not all, that’s not all,
Or I would of this, of this forgo.
Christ died, then rose in awe.
So come to Jesus pray
At last, pray, repenting
Be not afraid or dismayed.”
“Valentino, I’m lamenting,
You are wise and I am not
And my heart leans to this man,
Who could clean the ugly blot
I feel inside and cannot stand.”
“Then let us kneel, let us kneel’
And you must ask God to make
You new in His family sealed,
Completed for His sake.”
Rosa laughed, Rosa laughed.
“Look they’re two praying fools.
I’ll take my wooden staff,
Beat and beat and ore’ them rule!”
Beating began, began.
Valentino prayed and prayed,
Renato ran and ran,
He was too scared to stay.
(Marionettes exit left and right)
(Valentino stumbles back on stage, wears half a jacket, tattered pants and one shoe. Its’ head is most disturbing. Little pieces of fuzz remain of the hair, no buttons, only cross stitches for eyes, a torn seam where the mouth had been. ENTER RENATO.)
Renato in time, There in time,
To catch this wounded saint.
“This must be my very crime
To always have this taint,
Upon my soul, upon my life,
That you should die, telling me
How to become Christ like.
I want so much to receive
This new birth, this new birth.
How shall I pray to be saved?”
“Ask Jesus to lift the curse
From the life in which you’ve strayed.”
“Yes Jesus, Forgive, forgive,
Lest be separate from Thee
I will give, I will give,
My dead, dark heart to Thee.”
(Renato’s eyes open, he sees Valentinos smiling face glimpsing up at him. Exit Renato stage left for help. Caterina Sings, “Aah…aah…aah.” Valentino floats up until he’s out of sight. Curtain closes.)
Clapping ensues, Tears well and fall. Soldiers in the crowd come forward to apprehend Allesandro and Caterina. This time they have not escaped for sharing the true gospel story.
*“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no man can work.” John 9:4 (NKJV)
*“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 (NKJV)
*Allesandro – “the defender of his own men”
*Caterina – “pure”
*Valentino – “after a life of faith and devotion”
*Renato – “bring him to life and call him by his name; born again”
*Rosa – “pride woman”
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