Hosted by Montegrappa, Paulo Coelho’s St Joseph’s Day Party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle, Castello Superiore di Marostica.
The party was held at a medieval Venetian Castle some half an hour drive outside of Bassano del Grappa.
On arrival, after passing through a road block checking for unwanted gatecrashers, we were met on arrival by Venetian soldiers holding flaming torches.
Some sort of pageant was taking place. Food and drink was served outside, though it was a cold night.
We were then ushered indoors where a guitar of Rudolf Schenker (lead guitarist and founder of German rock group Scorpions) was being painted by Christina.
Then we were ushered upstairs, where tables were laid for dinner.
Paulo Coelho explained why he celebrates St Joseph’s Day with his friends. He said this was a very special party as it was a Silver Anniversary, ie 25 years. It was also a Silver Anniversary of the publication of The Pilgrimage.
Paulo Coelho was born dead, strangled by his umbilical cord. His mother prayed for a miracle, that life be breathed into his dead body. He recovered. She promised she would mark St Joseph’s day, but never did. God is forgiving. God is not the God of hate, who damns us for all eternity, that Francis Chan portrays in his evil book Erasing Hell.
Paulo now marks St Joseph’s Day to give thanks for his good fortune.
Wine is mentioned several times in the Bible. All but one involves Joseph.
As always, the dinner started with prayers. First Paulo in Portuguese, then many languages, including German (The Abbot of Melk Abbey) and Japanese (Yumi Crane).
Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity.
Yumi Crane spoke of the Tsunami. It was one year, one week, one day. It was very moving. She was in tears. Mio, with who I was holding hands, was in tears. I was in tears.
For Mio, it was a dream come true to meet Paulo Coelho.
There were many courses, several were on the table when we sat down. I had no idea what most of them were. There was long gaps of half an hour between courses, which gave people plenty of time to wander around and chat to people at other tables, exchange gifts.
I gave Paulo Coelho Fusiones, signed by all members of the group Ensamble Dos Orrillas, who I had seen live at an excellent concert a couple of weeks before in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. A fusion of music from South America and the Canary Isands. I am only sorry I did not get the opportunity to take a picture of Paulo Coelho with the signed album. Hopefully this album will be available for download from bandcamp in the near future.
On the tables was also a special gift from Paulo. A bottle of perfume, The Alchemist. I assume specially commissioned for the occasion.
Many people came up to me and chatted who I had no idea who they were but for some reason they knew who I was.
One was Dasha Balashova, a remarkable Russian artist, who I learnt is now living in France in or near the Pyrenees. I have Dasha to thank for my original contact with Paulo Coelho. Until the night of the party we had never met.
A firework display!
Presents for Paulo: A silver tray to mark 25th anniversary of The Pilgrimage, a special chair to sit at when he writes.
Ken Crane was called. Where was Ken when needed? As a special gift Ken had brought five pairs of boxer shorts with his graphics and quotes from Paulo Coelho. Paulo handed these out to named individuals.
A few minutes before midnight Paulo Coelho announced eating was over, it was time to go downstairs and dance.
In the early hours of the morning we were treated to Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho (on guitar and vocals) performing Rock Like a Hurricane, Still Loving You, and maybe a couple of other numbers. It was unbelievable. I do not think the group who were playing could believe their luck playing with Rudolf Schenker and Paulo Coelho. For Time they were joined on vocals by Rudolf Schenker’s girlfriend Tanya.
Sometime in the early hours, Christina and I were dancing centre stage.
Then book signing.
On the edge of the light I noticed armed guards!
All good parties eventually have to come to an end.
We finally got back to our hotel at 3-30am in the early hours of the morning!
Many thanks to Paulo for the invite and putting on such a great party and to Montegrappa for generously hosting the party and for providing the transport there and back.
Paulo Coelho has posted a shorter version on his blog.