Not only does the parish define the geographical territory of villages and neighborhoods, it is also the place where a community lives. Up until the middle of the 20th century, citizens related more to their parish than their municipality. Their sense of belonging stemmed from their longstanding relationship with the church.
For as long as they could remember, daily life was centered around the church. It was the gathering place for families, friends, and neighbors to celebrate everything from important religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter to weekly Sunday mass.
Beyond its religious nature, the church also defined social and family moments. Up until recently in Catholic parishes, bells would sound off every hour of the day and also indicate seasonal work. Even today, they are heard at important life events such as births, weddings, and deaths.
Thus, the church is imprinted upon individual and collective memory. In addition to its physical presence, it bears an intangible dimension which is found in every parishioner’s life story.