I would like to share with you my arrival in Assisi – at the Eremo delle Carceri, to be precise – when I was about 22 years old. I decided to go there because, when I was 14 years old, I had met a scientist friar. It was dusk and I was left alone, as a group of Roman tourists, which I had to join for the return to Rome, had left without me. The Guardian friar of the Eremo delle Carceri, Fr. Stefano Gesi, was going to close the gate. He found me leaning against the well as I looked out over the valley, and I was crying. The Guardian friar approached me and asked me what had happened. I replied: «The Lord told me to come to Assisi today and here I would have received indications on my life, but I was not told anything». And he added: «Stay with us for praying, then we’ll have dinner together. Sleep here and tomorrow you’ll feel better». I was welcomed and, instead of returning home after a couple of days to give a medical exam, I found my way there, indeed I found the style of my Franciscan vocation: welcoming people! Meanwhile my father, worried since I didn’t return home on the eve of my medical exam, decided to come to Assisi and, once he found me, I told him my intention to stay there to become a friar.
Later, my father told me: «I don’t understand you, but I think you have understood!» For my mother it was much more difficult: she couldn’t understand my choice and often cried disconsolately. One day, however, she found peace of heart: she went to a mass in a small parish – S. Alessandro – on Nomentana street, just outside the Grande Raccordo Anulare and there she noticed a statue reproducing Michelangelo’s Pietà; feeling the great suffering of Our Lady, she also put her suffering in the hands of the Lord. Later, my mother said to me: «I want to feel what you felt!» Both my parents, shortly thereafter, entered the Neocatechumenal Way of our parish.
I entered the postulancy in 1978 and took the religious dress on September 9, 1979, at the Sanctuary of San Damiano in Assisi, where I then made my first profession on September 8, 1980. Later, on September 29, 1984, at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Porziuncola, I made my solemn profession. I was ordained a deacon on December 8, 1984, by Mons. Ennio Antonelli.
Finally, I was ordained a priest on June 29, 1985, by Mons. Sergio Goretti and I celebrated my first mass in my parish of origin, S. Achille Martire in Rome (Talenti district), on June 30, 1985.
First Mass of Fr. Emidio in the parish of S. Achille Martire (Rome, 6.30.1985)
Then I celebrated my second mass in the large garden of my family’s country house in Torlupara, near Rome, on July 7, 1985.
On June 27, 2010, I celebrated my 25 years of priesthood with a mass in the parish of S. Remigio in Colleverde (Guidonia), where, for some years, I had been providing my pastoral service on Sundays; in the afternoon, there was a party in the countryside in Torlupara, together with my family.
25th anniversary of Fr. Emidio’s priesthood (6.27.2010)
Regarding my studies as a friar, after obtaining a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in May 1990 at the Accademia Alfonsiana of the Pontificia Università Lateranense, I continued at the Accademia Alfonsiana and took a Doctorate in Moral Theology – with the vote of «Summa cum Laude» – on November 29, 1994, with the thesis «’Believing everything… believing nothing’. The Notae de miraculis: unpublished work by Cardinal Prospero Lambertini (Benedict XIV), on extraordinary and magical-superstitious phenomena».
Within the provincial fraternity, since my total inability to carry out manual tasks – such as, for example, olive harvest –, I covered the roles of Vice-teacher of the Farneto students (I remember that in that period my nephew Valerio, instead of going on a trip with his high-school class, came to visit me, and we spent about a week together) and of the Porziuncola, then of librarian, and of teacher at the Theological Institute of Assisi, residing in the convents of Farneto, Porziuncola, Todi and Terni. For more than twenty years I have been a vocational animator in the Youth Orientation Service (S.O.G.), generously offering the announcement of the Word and my profound fatherhood to many young people, also during the annual Franciscan Marches to Assisi and the numerous popular missions, which I took part to. Since 2002 I have also established a fruitful collaboration with the Friars Minor of the Marche, together with the Franciscan Alcantarine Nuns, promoting spiritual training courses for young people and families, which still continue today.
On June 29, 2003 – the day of my priesthood anniversary -, the Lord gave me the grace to be close to my father, who had been bedridden for some time, and to be able to hold his hand when he returned to the Father’s kingdom. He always used to tell me that his greatest hope was precisely to die holding the hand of a priest…
From the end of 2004 until the summer of 2006, I went through a very delicate phase of both my life and my vocation. So, I took a long time for some serious consideration and, after leaving the convent, I moved to Mentana, starting to live in the house where I was born. I thought of that time when, in the middle of the family photo album, I found a note from my father for my 17th birthday: «My dearest son, I know that someday you will be disappointed… My son, never let your heart harden, never lose hope!» In this difficult situation, the only one by whom I felt truly understood is Moses; this doesn’t mean that I am at his level but, considering God, the pharaoh, the people, his family, the sea, the desert, all the complaints, the advices, the accusations, etc., I found great similarities between the two of us… In this long time, I was really helped by both praying at home and going to my father’s tomb in Mentana, where I used to cry and pray with him. Then, when in the Mass or in the liturgy of the hours a few words seemed to be right for me, I stopped and enjoyed them; so, I used to talk to the Lord and thank Him for my wonderful life and asked Him to forgive me for my childishness and to help me do His will. I’ve never felt alone…
Mainly to be closer to my mother, widowed and in need of help, and to support my sister with whom she lived, from the end of November 2006, after joining again the friars, I have been authorized to join the fraternity of the S. Antonio International College in Rome, first serving as a teacher and then as a confessor, dealing with the spiritual direction of the many people who over the years have approached me for both discernment and spiritual advice, to be helped to understand the will of God on their life or to find an answer of faith to the questions posed by events of their life. From that period on, I was also able to spend more time with my family of origin.
On November 24, 2015 – on the eve of my 59th birthday -, the Lord gave me the grace to be able to hold the hand of my mother, hospitalized for the after-effects of a serious heart attack, and to be able to accompany her with prayer when she exhaled her last breath.
About six years ago, I had a very interesting dream… The Crucified Man of the Holy Shroud was alive. I asked Him what was all that pain and He replied: «It’s the pain of an innocent child. Do you want to bring it?»«Okay» I told Him and I immediately felt a sword transfixing my soul. Then I understood what the soul is: something real, which exists forever and can feel frightening pains and indescribable joys.
I contracted covid at the end of 2020 but asymptomatically, so I only discovered it in January 2021 when, close to going into a diabetic coma, I was hospitalized at the S. Giovanni Hospital in Rome, and I was diagnosed with a covid-19 regressing pneumonia. In good shape after a long period of convalescence at the convent of S. Antonio and despite having undergone numerous medical check-ups that confirmed the improvement of my diabetes – this is why, after consulting with several doctors of my trust, I also decided to take a dose of anticovid-19 vaccine on April 3 -, around 7:15 a.m. on Friday, April 16, I had a cerebral hemorrhage , caused by a sudden spike in blood pressure, and I was immediately admitted unconscious to the S. Giovanni Hospital. I never regained consciousness and, since clinical conditions worsened , at about 10:45 p.m. on Monday, April 19, I returned to the Father’s house, at just over 64 years of age, 40 of religious profession and 35 of priesthood.
Omely at the funeral of Fr. Emidio in Assisi by the Provincial Minister, Fr. Francesco Piloni
Now I live in the full Joy and in the loving Light of the Lord, whom, during my earthly pilgrimage, I have been always looking at with an infinite nostalgia!…