Sunday, November 1, 2015

Island of the Dead - San Michele, Venice - All the Saints and All the Souls

Mary de Rachewiltz at the tomb of parents Ezra Pound & Olga Rudge - Photo: Cat Bauer
Mary de Rachewiltz at the tomb of her parents,
Ezra Pound & Olga Rudge
(Venice, Blog) It is uncanny how often I run into Mary de Rachewiltz on All Saints Day on the Isola di San Michele, Venice's cemetery island. This year, I was far away from the tomb of her famous parents, Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, when Mary arrived in the afternoon -- usually I get there earlier, and so does she. I was in a completely different section of the cemetery at the tomb of my Venetian nonni trying to light a candle that the wind kept blowing out. After about ten attempts, I decided to go to the florist at the front of the island and buy a wind-resistant candle. I literally almost ran into Mary as she was heading in.

"Mary!" I cried. "I'm so happy to see you!"

"Cat Bauer!" she exclaimed. "I'm running into everybody today."

Tomb of Ezra Pound, November 1, 2015 - Photo: Cat Bauer
I told Mary there had been rumors that she was dead, which I had not believed, since I thought I would have heard about it. I had googled her, and saw she was most certainly alive, still going strong at 90 years of age.

We decided to take a photo to document that she was, indeed, alive -- not only alive, but I can attest that she is as witty, feisty and delightful as ever. When I made a remark about her father, she jousted me, jokingly using her cane as a sword.

Tomb of Olga Rudge, November 1, 2015 - Photo: Cat Bauer
I thought it would be appropriate to shoot the photo in front of her parents' tomb, and off we went; I can also attest she is as spry as ever. Every year Mary comes down from Schloss Brunnenburg, her 13th-century castle up in South Tyrol, to pay respects to her parents: her father, the influential poet Ezra Pound, who died on All Saints Day here in Venice 43 years ago today, two days after his 87th birthday, and her mother, the concert violinist, Olga Rudge, who died at age 101 up at Brunnenburg Castle.

Brunnenburg Castle
I have written about Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day often in the past, because it is a time that holds great personal significance. They say that the dead return to earth at this time, and this I believe. Before my father died, we made an agreement to explore life after death. We agreed on a code word that he would communicate to me if there were life after death. On November 2, 2006, ten years after my father had died, I was about to take an afternoon nap. In that hazy period between wake and sleep, I heard the code word! I said, "Pop! Is that you?" He had been cremated, and apparently there was a problem with the location of his ashes.... which turned out to be true.

Remembering the ancestors is something that should be highlighted in every culture, whether the emotions they bring up are good or bad, happy or sad. The celebration here in Venice of those who have gone before us is a tradition I deeply respect.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

3 comments:

  1. It is uncanny how often I run into Mary de Rachewiltz on All Saints Day on the Isola di San Michele, Venice's cemetery island. This year I was not even around the tomb of her famous parents, Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, when Mary arrived in the afternoon -- usually I get there earlier, and so does she.

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  2. Mary de Rachewiltz lives in that castle! OMG, that is amazing! What a world we live in!!!! All the times I've been to Venice, I haven't been to San Michele... I sometimes "feel" the dead, and I thought it would freak me out. I will go next time!

    Keep your wonderful posts coming, I love what you write! And I love your photos!
    I can't wait to go see the new documentary about one of my heroes: Peggy Guggenheim! I love visiting her grave at her house in Venice. Makes me weep with joy!

    Ciao from California!
    --Leslie

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  3. Go on out to San Michele, Leslie! Don't be afraid.The only reason we are afraid of death is because we are afraid of the unknown.

    Thank you for your kind words,
    Cat

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