Father Bartolomeo Faldrini

by Saveria Masa

Father Bartolomeo Faldrini was a Capuchin friar, originally from Chiesa Valmalenco.

He dedicated his long life to the service of others, espcially to the sick and the most needy.

The publication of his numerous letters, collected by family members in a beautiful volume, represents an important opportunity to discover and divulge the work of this illustrious inhabitant of the valley.

Friar Peace and Goodwill

Father Bartolomeo Faldrini was born in Chiesa Valmalenco on 21 April 1902.

After studying for his high school diploma, he completed his military service (1922-23), and then took the Capuchin habit at the Seraphic Seminary in Lovere (BS) in 1928.

Once he had completed his studies of philosophy and theology, he was ordained priest in 1934 by Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster, archbishop of Milan.

He spent a few years as spiritual father in various monasteries and, in 1946, he was elected guardian of the convent of Varese, where he remained in office for about three years.

In November 1949, he was sent as spiritual father for the novices in the convent of Chiaravalle Centrale (Catanzaro).

In 1953, he was appointed guardian of the Permanent Missionary Centre in Spezzano Sila (Cosenza), whose work aimed to provide religious assistence to the people in those mountainous areas. There were very difficult, hard years, as it was not easy to put his pastoral work into practice in a very socially-depressed area.

With his untiring work and simple, but persuasive words, Father Bartolomeo soon became a familiar, well-loved figure among the people of Sila.

In 1959, after a year as Father Superior at the Misionary Centre in Sezze Romano, he was sent first to the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Milan and then to the convent of Brescia, as auxiliary bishop with the specific task of helping the sick and those in prison.

For many years in Brescia, Father Bartolomeo went from door to door to console and bless the young and old who were sick and bedridden.

His greeting accompanied by a big smile was always: "Peace and Goodwill!", so that many nicknamed him "Friar Peace and Goodwill". Brescia was also the final step in his earthly pilgrimage. He died on 27 May 1977 at the age of 75, at the hospital in Tirano.

His letters

What better way to commemorate Father Bartolomeo in his home valley than to publish his correspondence with his family during his 48 years of religious duties?

This is a collection packed with letters, especially those between Father Bartolomeo and his sister, Giovanna.

Many of the letters were written to his mother. They are letters in which his profound faith and enormous charity, which distinguished his personality and his work, are expressed with simplicity, combined with day-to-day necessities. One example is his letter of thanks to his sister for the parcel containing "a jar of honey" and "the much appreciated bread".

A strong, unbroken bond with his family, in whom Father Bartolomeo occasionally confided the difficulties of everyday life, as we read in a letter written to his sister from Reggio Calabria: "I find I have been sent to a tiny Calabrian village where the water isn't very good, there's no electricity and many souls are far from God and his Church. There are, however, many good people who love me."

The book, "Frate Pace e Bene. Padre Bartolomeo Maria Faldrini da Chiesa, minore cappuccino", published in August 2013, is enhanced with revealing illustrations and photographs: there are some very beautiful photos of Friar Bartolomeo, whose simple, physical presence reveals an almost disarmingly immeasurable soul and faith. There are also period photographs of his family memebers and of the friar with his fellow brothers. A significant, skilfully produced, iconographic collection, which enriches even further, if possible, a publication already full of messages of hope.