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The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

By Claire Davis

At the age of 22, an architect met a woman who would ultimately change the course of his life. Though the woman had cancer, she radiated life.

“Even though she was sick for four years, she was so serene; she had hope,” says Friar Stelvio, who credits the woman with helping him find his path to the Franciscans. “She became a teacher for me and a beacon of light.”

To this day, Friar Stelvio thinks of her to find strength and hope.

Friar Stelvio is now the provincial at the Monastero Dei Cappucini, a Franciscan-Capuchin monastery in Cagli, Italy. The ancient buildings where he and two other friars reside are nestled in the lush hills above the city. It is a sanctuary and safe place for the people of Cagli.

“We are available all the time for the people,” says Friar Stelvio.

Friar Stelvio was born in Camerino, Italy. He studied theology and philosophy in Rome before returning to the Marche region and the Capuchin monastery where he now lives. The Monastero Dei Cappucini is one of 20 monasteries in the Marche region. It is currently under the Franciscan order, although it has not always been this way.

The Benedictines founded Monastero Dei Cappucini in 1481. It then became a thriving fortress during times of war.

Reminiscences of those violent times remain forever emblazoned in the walls that surround the monastery and the crumbling structure that overlooks Cagli. These ruins are a reminder that Cagli was not always as peaceful as it is now.

Much of the monastery has been renovated, although there is one room that remains intact from the original construction. To this day the friars of Monastero Dei Cappucini eat in the dining room where the Benedictines once broke bread and drank wine. The old wooden tables and benches and beautiful, paint-chipped frescoes on the walls show the years this dining room has seen.

The friars of Monastero Dei Cappucini lead lives of simplicity. Friar Stelvio says he “belongs to the simple people of God.” After cleaning house, taking care of their lush, fruitful garden and conducting services in the local parishes, Friar Stelvio and the two other friars spend time with the Cagliesi.

“We have a lot of time to be with people,” Friar Stelvio says, “if we didn’t, it wouldn’t be good. We need to be with the people.”

On Easter Monday, the entire town is invited up to the monastery for breakfast. Everyone brings their own eggs, and they make one big frittata (omelet) with vegetables and salami. Friar Stelvio spoke proudly of the 80-egg frittata made at this year’s breakfast.

The friars live in small, basic dormitory rooms that are no bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet. Each room includes a twin bed, desk and window. Their simple way of life is also evident from their clothing. Each wears a plain, brown hooded robe with a triple knotted cord around his waist. The robe is cut in the shape of the cross; and the cord symbolizes the three oaths all Franciscans take: poverty, chastity and obedience.

A Different World

The friars of the monastery rise at 6:30 a.m. to pray the Lodi, the prayer of the morning and then hike down to the city where they conduct masses and provide other services at two parishes and two monasteries. At 11:30 a.m. they pray the Oramedia, which is all psalms, followed by lunch. Their afternoons are filled with chores, going to other churches or spending time with the townspeople. They end the day with the prayer of the Vespers in the evening.

Friar Stelvio and the friars of Monastero Dei Cappucini sit above the city as a beacon to provide support, teaching and hope for the people of Cagli.

Video by Ian Roeber
Photos by Takako Sato
Web Design by Anne Wessell