As a child from age five to eight, my parents were forced to enroll me in a Catholic school run by nuns, the Santa Chiara Institute in Sciacca. It was the only school at that time that provided full-time education. I would go to the Institute at seven in the morning and leave at five or six in the afternoon. It was actually a kind of orphanage. The educational methods that were practiced there would be the subject of numerous criminal prosecutions today. When I stopped attending it in 1978, I carried with me almost only bad memories, apart from those involving my classmates at the time. My first photographs, ever, portrayed them. Needless to say, I came out an atheist.
I do not have a single photograph of those nuns. Of some I remember the huge, rough hands with which they beat, sometimes using chopsticks made from fruit crates. Only of sister I keep a good memory, Sister Constance. She would sell us fruit gummies and give us a smile. Hers and ours.
Perhaps that is why in the course of my walks, I do not hesitate to take a picture if I meet a nun on the street. It is my way of maintaining contact with something that has hurt me. A contact that has in it, at the same time, the flavor of childish revenge and the need for mature reconciliation. I am still an atheist, but the nuns have nothing to do with it anymore.