The Mason of God (Dennis Aubrey)

In a world where what passes for news are articles about the megalomaniac Donald Trump, the Kardashians, and the Jenners, we occasionally find something worth consideration.

On August 25 a funeral mass was celebrated in the Italian town of Montefortino at the chiesa della Madonna dell’Ambro. The recipient of the mass was a Capuchin friar, Padre Pietro Lavini who lived as a hermit in the Sibylline Mountains near Rubbiano Montefortino and along the Gola dell’Infernaccio, the Gorge of Hell. A thousand people attended the service of the man who died two weeks prior, on August 9, 2015.

Why did they come to this mass? What did Padre Pietro accomplish with his life as a hermit?

Padre Pietro Lavini, photo from Santuario Madonna dell'Ambro
Padre Pietro Lavini, photo from Santuario Madonna dell’Ambro

In 1971, Padre Pietro discovered the ruins of the Eremo di Santo Leonardo, an abandoned 12th century Benedictine monastery in the wilds of the Sibyllines. All that remained of the church were fallen stones and a single standing Romanesque arch. Pietro received permission from his monastic superiors and walked into the wilderness with the goal of single-handedly restoring the church. He spent the next 43 years working alone and by hand and rebuilt the church. When asked how he managed it alone, he responded that there were two in service of the restoration. God was the designer and he himself was the mason. He became known, in fact, as the muratore di Dio, the builder of God.

L'Eremo di Santo Leonardo
L’Eremo di Santo Leonardo

I’m pretty sure that Trump would characterize the small monk as a “loser” because he didn’t spend his life inflating his own reputation, sleeping with beautiful women and living in a gilded palace. There is no room in the Trump brand for someone who lives a life of sacrifice and renunciation, a life with values that run deeply in the search for the truth of the human soul. Trump lives in a tiny narrow band of reality that inflates its own importance by belittling the rest of the world. I’m sure that if he saw the abandoned meadow in the Sibyllines, all Trump could imagine would be an exclusive golf resort for his rich friends. Padre Pietro imagined an entire world in the fallen stones, and built it with his two hands.

Thanks to our friend Diane Quaid who brought the life of Pietro Lavini to our attention via this article in the Economist.

16 thoughts on “The Mason of God (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. Wonderful article about someone who has made a great addition to the world of antiquity without billions to help him.

    I wonder how Trump would survive on a mountain, on his own – no phone, just his wits to see him through. Shame he can’t see that money is a tool and not a god!

  2. Living in such a tiny narrow band, Trump is the pathetic loser. Not sure if I feel sorry for him though.

  3. OK. The monastery exists again physically. But how much better it would be and crown the hermits labors if benedictine monks were to mover to the monastery. At least two or three. (If the local abbots cannot send dozens, then three probably is the best. Wiith two the daily relationship might be a strain. With four two could gang up on the other two.
    I am serious. I do so deny Aubrey being able to visit so many Romanesque chruches that STILL ARE IN USE. I know that he understands what I mean when I say that a church still used by the parish is somehow more beautiful than one presrved as a museum.

  4. I wonder how many of the viewers realize that if it weren’t for “Trump-types” creating fortunes before, during and after the renaissance there would be little in the way of church architecture. Perhaps mingling personal political invectives with an architectural survey should require that an even handed discussion take place.
    After studying art history all my life I realize that there were many a megolomaniac Pope that demanded much of their artists and architects and not just for the glory of God.
    It saddens me to see cheap and unwise political agendas permeating this site.

    1. Alma, the comparison I was trying to make was not about politics, but of self-aggrandizement in popular culture. I am sorry that you see this as a cheap and unwise political agenda. As far as the rich being responsible for a great deal of art, that is undeniable. Julius II, Urban VIII, and others were certainly prominent examples. History may judge them as being somehow responsible for the art of the age, but are you putting Trump in that category?

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