Friday, July 29, 2011

Franciscan Imitates St. Francis, Rebuilds Church Alone for Fifty Years

Editor: Franciscans are "friars" not monks.

God Willed It

The unbelievable story of Father Pietro Lavini: From 1954 to 2003 he rebuilt a monastery completely alone, in an untraveled mountain area in the Apennines.

Montemonaco ( In the spring of 1954 Father Pietro disappeared without a trace from his Cloister to rebuild a ruined Monastery in the Apennines Mountains. In the summer of 2003 the Bishop of Father Pietro received a letter with the sentence: "The Monastery is finished."

Andreas Englisch told the story of the Italian priest in his book "Traces of God: Miracles of the Catholic Church". Englisch had also related this story to the Hamburg evening news.

In the spring of 1954 the Abbot of the Franciscan Cloister by Ascoli Piceno in Adria noticed that Father Peitro had vanished. After a fruitless search he was removed from the list of priests, which entitles them to government support. He was reported as missing.

In the Summer of 1971, in the mountains near Gola del Infernaccio, a deep canyon in the middle of the Apennines mountains, which are famous for falling stones and avalanches, a mountain climber met the monk and told his Bishop: "The priest had very long, matted hair and a filthy beard. He lived in the cold of the high mountains in a kind of improvised hut made only from a few branches and a torn plastic tarp."

He sustained himself with heavily moldy bread, greens and tree bark. With self-made tools, he broke stones from the cliffs, there he was completely alone, without money or machines, where he wanted to rebuild the ruins of a Monastery. He had even built an aqueduct which carried water across the canyon. He collapsed from work many times, suffered broken bones, which he cured by himself with herbs. He showed me his serious injuries. I feared, the man was severely mad."

The Bishop then sent an inspector with the mission to bring the priest to a psychiatric clinic of the Franciscans. After his expedition, the inspector reported to the Bishop that after many discussions attempting to persuade Father Pietro, that "the brother isn't mad, rather he is a saint. I bid his blessing and hope that the Church will leave him there, where he is, completely close to God. I fear our time is mad, so that for us, the example of a man like Father Pietro is so rare." All attempts by the social office of the Bishop to induce the Priest to return, were unsuccessful.

Father Pietro had contact with a family from the village of Montemonaco, which lays some 20km from Father's abode. The father, Franco D'Agonsino, then wrote to the Bishop, "I don't wonder that he doesn't starve up there! The climb is difficult, and I bring Father Pietro something to eat, and every time his larder is bare. he appears not to be concerned by it. When the snow falls, he is cut off for months at a time. I don't know how he endures."

In the summer of 2003 a letter arrived at the Diocese of Ascoli Piceno: Father Pietro wrote only one sentence: "The Monastery is finished." The Bishop traveled by helicopter to the place and wrote a report to the Vatican thereon only one sentence: "What I have seen, is a wonder."

The Village of Monemonaco in central Italy has about 700 inhabitants and lays about two hours by car from the beaches on the Adriatic. And suddenly visitors from all parts of the world came to the village to ask the way to the Gola del Infernaccio
canyon in order to see "a saint". Great gaps in the cliff walls are witness thereto, how over decades of work by hand, block upon block had been separated from the cliff.

After four hours of climbing the visitor suddenly arrives at a beautiful Monastery building. Father Pietro Lavini receives visitors happily and says: "Naturally, I could never have built these great buildings alone. That was beyond the power of a man, God desired it. God had given me this life's dream: 'Build me there, where it is impossible, a house under impossible conditions, and I will sustain you, heal your sickness and give you to eat, even when you think you must starve.'

The video in Italian is here.



Anonymous said...

Very interesting story. I've searched amazon and barnes and noble online for the book without success. Is it available?

Tancred said...

Nothing in English yet. Will keep you posted.