Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Italy Day 16 {San Giovanni Rotondo Cemetery, Monte St. Angelo}

Cemetery at San Giovanni Rotondo

Father Michael Pio translates the inscription on St. Pio's father's tomb stone.

Departing San Giovanni Rotondo was unlike any other departure on our pilgrimage.  We were not only leaving another little Italian town we had briefly explored and enjoyed; we were leaving a dearly loved new friend, Father Michael Pio, who had become like a family member to us in the hours we spent visiting.  After checking out of the Villa San Pietro, we departed together for the San Giovanni Rotondo Cemetery on the outskirts of town.  Father Michael Pio gave us a guided tour of the cemetery, beginning at the Capuchin Chapel in which are buried St. Pio's parents, brother, and sister; his spiritual daughter and Third Order Franciscan Adelia Maria Pyle; his superior, Padre Pellegrino Funicelli, and others closely tied to St. Pio.  Remarkably, while we were standing at the gated entrance to the chapel, a grounds keeper came along and offered to open the building for us.  Once inside Father expressed his amazement, explaining that in all the times he had visited this site, it had never been opened.  We were once again in awe of God's grace!  Father taught us about the lives of the holy men and women interned there and translated the crypts.  We prayed.

Father Michael Pio's mother's grave, which he visited daily, was housed in a crypt for fourth order Fransiscans.  We stopped there to pray together for the repose of her soul, and for the souls buried there.  We also visited the new Capuchin Crypt at the cemetery and Father shared personal stories and memories, and prayers for the Capuchins buried there.  Our departure followed, and Father stayed behind at the cemetery to pray.  With hugs, blessings and very fond memories we left San Giovanni Rotondo and our dear Father Michael Pio.

Picnic lunch at the Castle in Monte St. Angelo, which we only explored from the outside, as it was reposa.

In the year 490AD, St. Michael the Archangel consecrated a cave in the hills of the province of Foggia, which has been a holy place of worship and a destination for Christian pilgrims since the middle ages. In the town of Monte St. Angelo, and known as the 'celestial basilica,' this shrine dedicated to our patron St. Michael the Archangel, has been visited by some of our other patron saints, including St. Bridget and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as many popes and St. Francis of Assisi.  An awe inspiring place, the cave is now a part of a beautifully decorated Church, many feet underground.  No photography allowed, we spent our time in prayer both at the cave and in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  On display in the museum were dozens dozens of "thank you" cards to St. Michael the Archangel for his protection and prayers for many in need. 



St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Art work given in gratitude to St. Michael the Archangel.

  • Many Italian cemeteries have florists (up to 3 vendors) on site at the entrance.
  • Many Italian grave sites are decorated with fresh flowers and regularly visited.
  • I was always fascinated with cemeteries when Tim needed help navigating; I had to shield my eyes in order to stay focused on the task of map reading and not get distracted by cemeteries!  At least one wrong turn a direct result of cemetery fascination.

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