by Ernesto R Milani,
Ecoistituto della Valle del Ticino , Cuggiono San Francisco November 2, 2005
Luigi Brusatori in San Francisco
Today, November 2nd 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle has printed an article regarding the incident incurred by Lawrence Ferlinghetti while looking for his fatherís house in Brescia.
He ran into trouble with police due to the behavior of the present owners of the house and the lack of his personal documents. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is well known in San Francisco for his aggregation to Peter Martin, son of the anarchist Carlo Tresca, in founding the City Light Book shop , the alternative bookshop that launched the poets and writers of the Beat Generation : Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and became the center of the protest movement in California first and then the USA.
The clamor around Ferlinghetti overshadows the near presence of the church of St. Francis of Assisi which has after being close to demolition has become a California landmark.
This church is special to Italians most of all for the frescos depicting scenes of St. Francisís life:
St. Francis receiving the Stigmata and the death of St. Francis works of the Lonatese painter Luigi Brusatori who was a migrant in California from 1912 till 1921.
La church and its white towers are part of the San Francisco skyline.
Small, tidy, secluded, simple and traditional in its semi-gothic architecture with little external appearance. A corner for peace and meditation in a city where tourism has little space for deeper interests.
In nearby Washington Square stands the church of St. Peter and Paul. Official church with statues and impressive stained-glass windows but without any murals.
In this church the Lonatese of San Rafael and San Francisco Bay Area used to exchange vows. Mass in Italian and reception dinner at Fior díItalia in Union Street now relocated on Mason Street after a fire.
The most admirable work by Brusatori is to be found in another church on Broadway, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe- Out Lady of Guadalupe.
Church on a hill. White as the other ones and resembling the cathedral in Mexico City. Closed for many years , victim of the restructuring made by the Archdioceses of San Francisco to keep pace with the cyclical ethnic change of the city but also of the short-sightedness of many Americans who fiercely defense of separation between state and church fail to understand when a piece of art becomes a common heritage of the nation.
This point of view is damaging the famous California Jesuit missions who risk a partial destruction.
Itís been difficult to visit the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe simply because it has been transformed into a Chinese elementary school dedicated to St. Mary.
The strict observation of privacy laws that have no borders has led to a long negotiation with different people, several permit requests and authorizations due to the presence of schoolchildren. It would have been better avoiding the sight of the transformation of the same church that back in 1986 had given me a wonderful emotion while admiring the presence of Luigi Brusatori both as a fresco painter and decorator of the entire church.
The altar is intact and Mass is still celebrated but the rest of the church is completely covered with mobile structures, I hope, that hide it almost totally from the view.
Only the fresco of the Last Supper and the decorations of the ceiling are visible.
Brusatoriís work seems to be intact but the sense of bewilderment has lasted for the entire visit mitigated only by the help given by Mary Ng and the memory of the previous visit when the light was explosive and the Mexicans singing.
The three white churches stand out against the panorama of North Beach viewed from the 52nd floor of the Carnelian bar of the Bank of America skyscraper. And here also the bust of its founder Amedeo Giannini is subject to the usual security measures.
Chinese children studying to become Americans in the shade of a great Lonatese.
Maybe one day I will tell them.
Also Luigi Brusatori is part of their history.