That graduate dressed
with jute and barefoot
the journalist Gilberto Scalabrini
When D'Annunzio “d’announzioed”,
he said that every man in Assisi is a Gray Friar ,
and every woman a Poor Clare… It.’s true, entering
in the town everyone suddenly feels himself a "pilgrim."
It’s the immanent charm of this land, unique in the
world, where one breathes a joy coming out from the
houses, the squares, the terraces overflowing in
summer with geraniums and carnations , hung upon
They are in every ogival
window or small loggia, in every arch, because the
geranium is the flower of Assisi. A city with steep
streets, towers, stone walls that are already
architecture and wisdom.
Finally, the effects of light which, even in a
gloomy day like that in which we were last December,
favour great effects of light and atmosphere. If
then you close your eyes, you see again the scene of
Francis who, before the bishop of the city, strips
off his clothes and gives them back to his father.
In a few days it will be
Christmas, and while in my mind I hear a soft music,
I wonder: what would it happen if the 25th of
December all of us would renounce to that affluence
which makes us careerists and some of us even Cain?
It would be too good to be true. The music now makes
me listen to the words of an old song that my father
often sang softly.
“Midnight has come, noises
turn off, even the sign of that last cafè turns off,
the streets are deserted and quiet, a last carriage
creaking goes away".
I sing it inside of me, while
almost petrified I observe the portrait of a
Franciscan very sui generis: barefoot (purple from
the cold), in the habit of jute as a medieval
penitent , a shoulder strap bag, stopping the few
tourists who pass through the square of the lower
basilica wrapped in light fog banks.
He is a member of the
"Community Families of Bethlehem." His name is
Massimo Coppo, 64 years and a degree in agriculture
with honors. He writes books and tries to sell them
on the street. His latest work is called "Prophecies".
The small and singular community, was founded in
1981 on the slopes of Mount Subasio, precisely in a
farm at Rocca Sant'Angelo of Petrignano. In the
beginning it was called “ Fuming Orient". The name
was choosed by its founder, Marcello Ciai a wealthy
In the seventies, Ciai
abandoned his wealth for sister poverty. He was
followed only by a few, and even today there are not
many persons who found the strength and the joy of
living in harmony waiting for eternity. Those few
are coming from different countries and cultures.All
are joined by the love for God and the neighbour.
And Massimo? In 1998, he
appeared in St. Peter's Square in Rome, barefoot and
with the only jute cloth.He wanted to demonstrate
peacefully, but was noticed by the Vatican police as
he raised a placard on which there.was reported the
message of the Bishop of Assisi, who declared
heretical the "Community Families of Bethlehem."
He was immediately sent back
to Assisi with expulsion order and cautioned not to
put foot in Rome for a year. A month later also his
driving licence was withdrawn from him.