Padre Pietro Lavini
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Padre Pietro Lavini recently died aged 88, on August 9th, 2015. This was just a week after his beloved older brother, Isidoro’s passing aged 93.
Padre Pietro Lavini was known worldwide as “God’s builder“, the nickname attributed to him by Pope John Paul II, no less, and for a very good reason.
Back in 1965 Lavini and a friend visited , a ruined monastery, in Monti Sibillini (Mount Sibillini) National Park, near the Apennine mountains in Italy.
This had been a place of worship and sanctuary since around 1066, but by the16th century, it had been totally abandoned and fell into acute disrepair.
On returning home Pietro Lavini could not shake a vision, or calling, which he perceived to be a message from God, clearly stating that he should in no uncertain terms, “rebuild that church”.
The task was a daunting one and appeared to be nigh on impossible to accomplish. The high (1200 meters) Apennine mountains are an inhospitable place at the best of times, which was the reason the monastery had been abandoned in the first place.
There was no water for miles and very little food. The only route into the church was a treacherous track, about an hour walk from the nearest village and unfortunately it passed through the Gola dell’ Infernaccio, (the Gorge of Hell).
The only complete part of the church that had survived had been used for hundreds of years as a sheep pen, and three foot of compressed sheep dung now acted as the church floor.
Pietro had also taken a vow of poverty, and therefore possessed no funds for building materials or general supplies.
He did, however, have the blessing of the Vatican, who allowed him to live on site and protected him from some harsh and unfair criticism in later years.
He started his daunting journey with just a loaf of bread and a few basic tools to his name. He survived on bread and cheese donated from local shepherds and vegetables that he grew in his little garden.
Lavini started the reconstruction of the church on May 24, 1971.
It took him four long years just to pipe in water from high up in the mountains, this was urgently needed not just for drinking and washing, but for making cement.
Each and every stone had to be cleaned, chiseled and polished and of course placed and cemented perfectly. Padre Lavini worked every hour of daylight, mostly alone, for over forty years.
In later years, Pietro was given the whole site by the owners, the heirs of newspaper editor and historian Luigi Albertini. Because of his vow to poverty Lavini transferred the deeds to a local Benedictine monastery.
When pilgrims came to visit they were warmly welcomed with a bed for the night a share of his food and his home made wine.
40 YEARS LATER
The church was finally consecrated on September 17, 2000. The bell tower was completed in 2012. In 2014, the church received an organ donated from an admiring renowned musical instrument business.
In 2014 Padre Pietro Lavini suffered a stroke and was taken to hospital in Ancona. He was never to return to San Leonardo again. He had planned to build his own tomb in the church, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
The video below is in Italian but at least you can get to see Padre Pietro Lavini for real and his church and San Leonardo.
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Padre Pietro Lavini – God’s Builder (c) 2015-2016 True Stories v1.0 L,G,A