November 12th, 2006

Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

I Walk with my Lantern..

"I walk with my lantern, 
and my lantern walks with me…" 

These are a few lines from a song we sing at the feast day of St. Martin, at November 11th.
St Martin was a soldier who gave half of his coat to a naked beggar. Therefore sharing is the focus of this feast. On the evening of this day children go with lanterns into the streets, call at houses and sing a song to receive some sweets in exchange. 


My husband, who is a vicar, organizes with the teachers of a state-primary school a parade in a suburb on this day. A hundred and twenty little children, buggy’s and parents go with lanterns and torches through the dark suburban streets, all singing, accompanied by the sound of trumpets. A moving event.

I shall never forget the first time we walked this parade. It was a few weeks after the death of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, killed by a radical Muslim. We all were shattered by that event. It felt that we cleaved the dark with our torches, lanterns and songs, and we really needed that. 

Painting: El Greco, St. Martin and the Beggar, 1597-99.