“Super Santos”, secular history of a very religious cult


By John

There is Divinity, there is Creed. There is the Rule, there is Faith: the adoring masses and the personal, intimate torch. There are Miracles. There is the Chalice, or rather the Cup, for the Rite. In short, it is football. Indeed, the secular religion of football as we know it well, even when it is all too mixed with Cossacks, interest and money for which we would occasionally wish that someone would drive the merchants out of the temple, even if we continue to stand in the stands and shout the terrible love of the believing and practicing fan. And think of those eleven, the Word made Flesh, ball fodder, called to perform miracles and celebrate the sacred. Just like the kids on the street do, thinking about the gods, dreaming of making it, of becoming a Maradona, maybe kicking a “Super Santos”. A perfect name for an absolute cult, so much so that Donato Paternoster (nomen omen), actor and playwright, made it into a show, “Super Santos (One who made it)”, whose national premiere was greatly applauded in the meritorious space of the Messina Festival Theater Courtyardled by Roberto Zorn Bonaventura.

We know, the history of football is dotted with demigods and heroes, but there are many, many more «sad footballers who never won», or worse, footballers who seemed like great promises, and then «hung up their shoes some kind of nail» (to quote a great modern philosopher, Francesco De Gregori). The protagonist of Paternoster – who appears in overalls and boots, with a bag and the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, against a backdrop of ringing front pages celebrating feats and champions – is one of those: a dazzling start, Serie A, the prizes, and then the decline, the minor leagues, oblivion. Yet, his story ends in another way … in another league. It is the true story of a footballer who becomes a Franciscan friar, passing from Rule to Rule, from Creed to Creed. And the strength of the show is this double story that intertwines and becomes a fresco of our time, tracing a personal story of enchantments and trials with a delicate and happy hand that reflects the story of all of us. We all recognize the commentary of the past, we all remember that failed penalty that cost us the world cup (that defeats bring brothers even more than triumphs), as we remember the Twin Towers, or the absurd days of the lockdown. Paternoster – with a passionately “physical” adherence to the character – celebrates, with a cup that is a chalice, or vice versa, the Eucharist-sharing, that communion of the human that it is not blasphemous to recognize in the passionate faith that can make “sacred” ” a pitch in the suburbs exactly like a large international stadium. Paternoster accumulates symbols, the 4-3-2-1 explains to us, which is the “Christmas tree” scheme, or rather a crib, with the ball becoming a comet and the ox and donkey making up the defenders; tells us about the championship of Francis of Assisi, the only one capable of winning by retreating, of telling the winners that whoever wins does not know what he is losing (and the stole with the inscription «What have you lost» reminds us of the other miracle recently renovated in Naples). And in the end, when he recites his Credo, we agree with him: «I believe that Maradona and St. Francis have spoken to each other». Oh, he who knows how much. The first part of the festival «La grande lie» by Claudio Fava, with David Coco, on Paolo Borsellino will conclude on Monday and Tuesday.

Photo by Rino Labate