Saturday, June 21, 2008


A few weeks ago we took a Sunday drive to the Reiti Valley, about 100 km from Rome, to visit a friend who has a “country home” in the town of Cantalice. The Reiti Valley is special to pilgrims because there are four places that were important in the life of St. Francis of Assisi, including the town of Grecio on the opposite side of the valley from Cantalice. I remember first hearing about Grecio on a 45-rpm record I had when I was a child. On this recording, Mary Martin told the story of St. Francis gathering together people in the town of Grecio to make a living precepio, with animals and men and women dressed as Mary, Joseph, and shepherds. He used this tableau to instruct people about the mystery of the birth of Jesus.The earliest records of Cantalice date to the 12th Century, when it was part of the Kingdom of Naples. The town has a unique urban layout, developing vertically along a steep rocky cliff. There is a flight if steps that cuts through the entire town. The little village culminates with a medieval watchtower and the 17th Century Church of San Felice. (The town was the birthplace of San Felice, the first Capuchin Franciscan saint.)We were told that at the beginning of the 20th Century there were basically ten families living in Cantalice. After World War II almost everyone left the town for the larger city in the valley below because they wanted running water. Today there is running water and electricity, and the large homes have been divided up into many smaller apartments. However, there is no roadway large enough for a vehicle, so one must “walk in” to the village.

Larry, Maria (friend from Catania), Horst (friend & Vin's colleague) and Vincenzo

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