The next morning he crossed the piazza of Balsofiore and entered the church of Sant Gaetano, whose yellow dome has for centuries been a familiar part of the Forio skyline. He read the inscription on an arch above the main altar.
His Latin was rusty, and as far as he could make out it meant, “Fear my sanctuary.” Which seemed rather odd.
Later, at a nearby café, he overheard a conversation between two young black-cassocked priests. They spoke English. He introduced himself as a visiting American, as if they didn’t immediately know where he came from, and asked if they might explain what the strange inscription actually meant.
“Yes, of course,” one of the priests said. “It’s is from Leviticus 19:30. ‘Custodite sabbata meum et pavete ad sanctuarium meum, ego Dominus.’ Ye shall keep my sabbaths and revere my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”
“I thought pavete means to fear.”
“It’s an archiac, idiomatic verb. There is no accurate English translation. Revere is close, but not quite.”
Later that afternoon in his hotel room he looked up Leviticus 19:30. The King James translation of the passage said “reverence” rather than “revere.” Well, all right, he thought. That’s settled.
But then he skimmed the next verse, and the next. And then:
“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.The stranger…shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt…”
He was not religious, but nevertheless he took this as a portent, a symbol, a sign. That perhaps he, after half a century of wandering the earth, had finally found a home.