Recounting a Journey of the French Capuchins in Italy
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From February 18-25, 2023, the brothers in formation from the Province of France visited the fraternities of the Italian regions of Piedmont and Liguria. Br. Anthony testifies to the richness of this trip that “strengthened the brothers’ feeling of belonging to the great Capuchin Order.”
“This visit was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (as they say in Italy): to meet our brothers from northern Italy, where the novitiate house of the neighboring provinces is currently located, and to experience a time of relaxation and recollection among our own brothers (as is customary in our province during certain times of the year). Our group of about ten friars in formation from France and Sardinia was accompanied by two French friars in charge of initial formation.
Rediscovering the Capuchin Heritage in Italy
Besides the beauty of the landscapes we encountered in this part of the Alps, we were amazed by the richness of the Capuchin heritage and tradition also present there. Some of the friaries we visited date back to the beginnings of the Franciscan Order, such as St. Barnabas in the city of Genoa, built in the mid-13th century. The layout and style of its chapel and its interior furnishings alone reflect our Capuchin charism’s penchant for simplicity, recollection and prayer.Some Italian brothers in the fraternity also perpetuate “La mensa dei poveri” – the popular soup kitchen started several centuries ago by the city's Capuchins. Together, the friars and devoted lay people continue to enhance the cultural dimension of our religious heritage, making it more accessible to people today, who often stray far from the Church.
The Gift of Brotherhood
During our visit, we were also struck by the care and attention of all the brothers who welcomed us. The extraordinary hospitality of the brothers from Turin gave strong testimony to the gift of fraternity that draws us together as one family. These brothers were also very attentive to the smallest details and surprised us by speaking perfect French, which is due to the nearness of the border as well as the fact that some of them were missionaries in French-speaking Africa.
One thing that was taken away from this trip was the joy experienced by the young brothers upon their reunion; it was a great opportunity for deepening their relationship in a relaxed atmosphere. What a great exchange we had with the novices and brothers from the friary in Tortona ... the shared experience invites us to give thanks! While the brothers from Liguria gathered in provincial assembly at the end of our stay, we must not cease to pray for them, and for everyone, so that the Holy Spirit may accompany us in the choices we must soon make for our future”.