Le Celle, in Cortona Italy. An ancient Franciscan Hermitage. St. Francis stayed here - at that time it was just an opening among some massive stones where he would sleep. The structure was built later. In the 1970's I spent four weeks here among the ten or so friars who occupied it. More pictures of the hermitage HERE.
One of those blessed Friars who lived here was Fra Luigi ( Brother Luigi). He was truly from the old stock of the Franciscan school of poverty and simplicity. His hair was white and long and his beard white as snow and as full as Old Saint Nick's. He worked constantly outdoors taking care of the garden, gathering firewood from the lush hillside, etc. He did this summer and winter. I saw him once carrying a huge ball of straw on a pitchfork, so big that only his legs could be seen moving along. He had a wacky sense of humor and was always praying. Here are some pictures of him. He died in (2002)
and is buried on the grounds there.
AS I WRITE THIS one of the other friars, Fra Giovanni (cook, winemaker, quester)
is in very poor health and has been moved to the Franciscan infirmary in Florence. He spent 55 years in the Hermitage.
Here is beloved Fra Giovanni:
Just a few years back we made a visit to Le Celle when we were in Italy. I met Fra Giovanni again. It was 35 years later. Here is a picture of that visit:
Here is what I looked like in 1973 at Le Celle. I'm the one on the right. Fr. Vasco is on the left: