Saints and kids on the staircase of Saint Peter in Modica
A line of statues representing the twelve apostles flanks the staircase leading to the entrance of the Duomo of Saint Peter, in Modica. Locals call them the “santoni”, and if you look at them from a specific angle they seem to be walking down the stairs, happy to reach the square in front of the Baroque building. You could almost hear “When the saints go marching in” in your head.
This beautiful church was built starting in the 14th century, and re-built in the late 1600s; groups of kids used to gather on its steps, right next to the “santoni”, bothering priests and local leaders who also met in front of the building to chat and spend their free time. Anthropologist Serafino Amabile Guastella wrote, in 1877:
“Up until a few years ago, there would be four or five hundred rascals crouched over the huge staircase of Saint Peter in Modica; hence there was a constant flow of handfuls of grass, dirt, pebbles and waste – aimed towards the Casino in front of the church, specifically to brake the doors’ glass panes or remove hats off people’s heads.”
We like to imagine the scene, with that old American gospel playing in the background…