|The Barber's Miracle|
|Written by Sherry|
|Tuesday, 23 February 2010 07:01|
Here's a charming, oh-so-Roman story that will start your day off right: The card-carrying Communist barber who cut "Fr. Karol's" hair and was repaid by a miracle. From the Times.
"I am not a saint, I am a sinner" says Giovanni Vecchio as he snips at a customer's hair in his barber's shop in a side street of a workaday Rome suburb. "But I have known a saint." He pauses, scissors in mid-air. "In fact, I have cut his hair".
If - or when - the late Pope John Paul II is canonised, it will be in part thanks to Mr Vecchio. Over 30 years ago, when the barber's shop he worked in was near the Vatican, a Polish prelate called Karol Wojtyla wandered in, sat down, and had his hair cut. He became a regular customer."
Vecchio didn't know who Fr Karol was. To him, a bishop was a just another priest. The barber was standing in St. Peter's Square in 1978 when he heard the new Pope's voice and recognized it. "I know him! I cut his hair!"
"But the encounter changed his life: last year, when he was entering hospital in great pain for a hernia operation, he saw a black and white photograph of John Paul II as a young man hanging at the entrance, and "our eyes met". Shortly afterwards, he was discharged. The hernia - and the pain - had miraculously disappeared.
What makes the "miracle" all the more remarkable is that Mr Vecchio, although baptised a Catholic, is a lifelong Communist, who still keeps his membership card in his wallet. His old-fashioned mirror-lined barber's shop however is now filled not only with mementoes of John Paul, including photographs and a pile of biographies, but also other signs of devotion such as images of Mother Teresa of Calcutta amid the family snaps and collections of razors, hairdryers and shaving brushes.
Mr Vecchio, an animated and - ironically - bald man of 61 who keeps fit by jogging, sees no contradiction, even though John Paul was instrumental in bringing down Communism in the Eastern bloc. "When I first saw him I immediately recognised the goodness in his eyes. At their best, I don't really think there's much difference between the Catholic Church and the ideals of Communism."