by Matteo Notarangelo *
The discovery of the 16th century arches of the former Capuchin monastery is troublesome. It happens in Monte Sant’Angelo. There are those who want to preserve historical memory and there are those who impose the oblivion of historical memory. It is the story of a divided city, in search of identity and self-government.
During the renovation of the former communal villa of Monte Sant’Angelo several arches from the 16th century were found on the lower floors of the former Capuchin monastery.
The supervision of the cultural heritage of Bari was informed about the discovery of the architectural heritage. The discovery of the arches was announced with questions and letters also to the mayor.
Several citizens, council, political and associative forces expressed their desire to recover the discovered archeological assets, but a gloomy silence disturbed their expectations.
With timely action, the arches were covered with mortars and none of the authorities responsible for protecting the architectural heritage informed the city of the reckless gesture.
Dissatisfaction is spreading among the people and it is easy to meet those who are surprised about the silence of the school and the institutions. But the toponymy of the city reports and explains the reasons and significance given to Piazza della Beneficienza, the place where the former Capuchin monastery stands out.
The annoyed city
What happens in the day-to-day life of the city from these two Unesco sites is unlikely. The discovery of the arches of the former Capuchin monastery does not create any curiosity, on the contrary, it is popular for reducing its historical value. The mayor writes that “these are small rooms that can not be used in the foundations to raise the structure”. A statement that for the moment finds no historical confirmation, but expresses his desire to bring the revealed arches back into oblivion, so as not to overwhelm the city.
The everyday life of senior citizens wants to be covered by tranquility, a cry of tranquility that is not suitable for a city that is a candidate for the Capital of Culture for the year 2025. But this is not just the archeological history of the ancient feudal city., There is more.
Those who want to know the artistic truths hidden in the belly of the city of the Archangel Michael can observe the relational, political and electoral dynamics. Then it becomes superfluous to rely on journalistic inquiries to know the many resistances that oppose the appearance of the many treasures buried by the dust of the last centuries.
Of course, to keep the memory, you need to know what it was, what it is and what it will be. But not everyone does it: the local political-cultural class chooses the lack of maintenance and the forgetfulness of comfort.
Deafening is the silence of the former cultural adviser of the two Unesco sites, awarded with many votes.
The social history of the city is linguistic and is told with the power of the common breasts. It is in this historical-administrative experience that the reason for the annoyance of sharing, speaking and protecting found cultural assets is intertwined.
Forgetting the story
The oblivion of the history of the people of the city of the archangel is destroyed, broken. These days, there are those who read and tell the story of the former Capuchin monastery.
For many, the history of the former Capuchin monastery may be useful. Remember there is a way to appreciate the places, the place and the spaces that were lived by a former human being with few rights, yesterday as well as today.
The town of Monte Sant’Angelo with its former Capuchin monastery complex has a great merit: it has provided many poor people and many pilgrims with qualified help in the field of health and in the field of care for the elderly in need. Under the exposed arch, and communicating with the premises of the monastery, the Capuchin strangers for centuries guaranteed a meal a day for the needs of the “Angel Mountain”. This tradition of aid and shelter for the sick, poor and elderly was addressed primarily to pilgrims on their way to the Michaelic Sanctuary, and then spread to the entire resident population, so that from 1561 it became a real city hospital. , managed by the University of Monte Sant’Angelo, called “Hospetale di S. Angeli”.
From his pious and sanitary work and from the Asylum of Mendicity there are indications in the various reports of the pastoral visits of the Archbishop of Siponto, Cardinal Orsini, from whom many pious works, including the local hospital, received aid and money. Thus, from the 19th century, and exactly from 1839, the hospital of the convent of San Francesco and that of the Carmelites (former Carabinieri barracks, with the adjoining church of Carmine) moved; 1858 and later 1868, in the Capuchin monastery, with an adjoining church dedicated to San Niccolò, in a women’s home. From that moment on, in order to meet the various welfare needs of the Capuchin Hospital, the municipality had to sell the entire building of the monastery, including the land used as a vegetable garden, which was donated by the state, after the subversive. Feudality laws of 1806, as well as the other monastic complexes of the Benedictines, Franciscans, Carmelites and Celestines.
The arches tell
The solidarity purpose of this transfer was to the use of a pious home for shelter and support for the sick and elderly in need in a state of solitude. The socio-welfare purposes desired by the community of Monte Sant’Angelo have also provoked attention to the beauty, to the architectural harmony of the monastery with the nascent main street of the city. The present staircase to the hospital and the Capuchin church was built in 1880. The civil hospital “San Michele Arcangelo”, located in the Capuchin monastery, had until its completion in 1957 a very important function in social health. Life of the city of the archangel, so many so recognized as the only center of great reputation in the medical and well-being field, especially what surgery, thanks to prof. Filippo Ciociola and the cure of infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, in the pious work of the sisters of charity and later of the order of the precious blood. The hospital was closed in 1957 after suffering a major damage in the 1955 earthquake, only moved to the northern part of the former convent in 1978.
The long, almost secular story of the adorers of the blood of Christ in Monte Sant’Angelo (FG) is part of this scenario, crossed by a succession of solidarity activities by welcoming and helping people in need: elderly people, orphans, pregnant women, ill; as well as school education and job initiation.
The rest is the story of today. The municipality of Monte Sant’Angelo, with its unpopular prefecture of commissioners, neglects the spirit of solidarity on the basis of the San Michele Reschthaus, in the former Capuchin convent, in 2017 chose the path of the tender for the “management” of needs of the elderly and indefatigable.
If this is the history of the places, who is going to retrieve the archeological and social history of the former Capuchin monastery? Who wants to hide it? Who wants to avoid it? Because of? Questions that sooner or later have to be answered.
* Sociologist and professional advisor