Church 2.0 Blesses Phones, Ipads and Ipods

St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers as many taxi drivers — with the saintly image glued to their dashboards — will tell you, but for Father Gil Fiorini of Nice, St Gabriel is the saint to watch, as in watch-over mobiles, Ipads/pods or other indispensable digital lifebelts.

Father Gil Florini explains the motives behind his service offering a blessing for mobiles and other digital accessories carried by his parishoners

Father Gil Florini explains the motives behind his service offering a blessing for mobiles and other digital accessories carried by his parishoners

The good father Florini, an enterprising priest at Saint-Pierre d’Arène church in Nice on the French Riveira, would seem to believe that his Catholic ministry benefits from being one of infinite and entertaining variety.

Apart from his regular pastoral duties, he reportedly does a decent line in Nice Pastis while his Citr’Orange liquer, “faithfully made to his traditional recipe from wine, fruit, and herbs can be acquired here at 19.00 euros a bottle.

(Nothing unusual there in fact. Many of France and Italy’s most venerated alcoholic refreshments can trace their origins to the skills of Medieval monks and nuns. The Trappist orders indeed are still famous today for their beermaking while in France some 109 wine appellations are of monastic origin together with 45 in Germany, 27 in Austria and 17 in Italy according to France’s Association Maître Chiquart).

Previously the well-regarded local priest has held services to bless motorcycles but now, as the BFM TV clip below shows, he has introduced his congregation to Church 2.0 placing the range of popular electronic gadgets carried by his parishioners under the protection of Archangel Gabriel, the messenger of God who in 1951 was named “patron saint of transmissions” by Pope Pius XII.

Nice: un prêtre bénit les téléphones portables… by BFMTV

As the Midilibre website reported recently: “Father Gil Florini wants to show that the church is ‘wired up’ and moving with the times and he introduced a service at which he blesses smartphones and other digital devices. We’ve all heard of services for the blessing of pets — dogs, cats, horses (and in the country’s most important cheese making areas — goats, cows and sheep) …”  so it should be no surprise to learn that recently in Nice some 700 worshippers turned out for a Sunday service at which the patron saint of telecommunications was invoked to keep an eye on their digital valuables.

The poster advertising the phone blessing service in Nice

The poster advertising the phone blessing service in Nice

It was the Sainte-Rita Church in Paris’s XVth arrondissement that earlier became famous for its services of blessing for animals and pets.

Thus perhaps not unnaturally, reports Fait Religieux : “Saint Pierre d’Arène on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, is not about to be left behind. On October 5, father Gil Florini blessed the mobile phones and touch pads of his parishioners. ‘Glued for hours on end to our ears,these have become the object of our deepest feelings, our pain, our anger, our worries’ says the priest, ‘making it natural to bless them to help people understand that they should be put to good and honest use’.

“The parish of Saint Pierre d’Arène is not the only one to bless everyday objects. The pilgrimage to the castle of Saint-Christophe-du-Jambet, Sarthe, has been going since 1953 and is a favourite religious rendezvous for motorists. Every year in late July, it stages a Mass, and, in the name of St Christopher, offers a traditional blessing of cars. On August 15 each year in Porcaro, Brittany — a town of 700 souls — some 30,000 bikers from around France gather for the blessing of their bikes — a parade that lasts for more than two hours and is conducted by Father Jean-François Audrain, himself a dedicated motard or motorbiker.

The blessing of mobiles and other digital devices in Nice

The blessing of mobiles and similar devices in Nice

“Moreover, for the second consecutive year, Father Patrick, parish priest of Hermès, in the Oise, has blessed the books of his young flock during a mass held before they return to school for the autumn term. Father Patrick’s message is simple: “there are no promises of miracles or good grades for the student who fails to open their school texts or exercise books: ‘The idea is to encourage children to be attentive to their teacher, and to take care of their learning material and the property of others’, he said. This service has indeed become increasingly common in parishes and Catholic institutions, such as the Saint-Jean-de-Passy school in Paris”, the website reported.

Story: Ken Pottinger


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