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?
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.
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.