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Bishop Sigalini’s report

    Tale of a triduum of passion by Mons. Domenico Sigalini – Bishop emeritus.

    I returned once again to Fra Elia to share a little with him the suffering he experiences even in the body on liturgical days which help us relive the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. I meet him on Holy Wednesday evening, I find him already in pain because everything already begins on Palm Sunday.
    A night hand to hand with satan has already made him sore and filled with bruises on his arms and wounds on his head.

    In the evening of Holy Wednesday we are at mass together, I participate because I have already celebrated in the morning. I take holy communion. Fra Elia takes communion and hasn’t just returned to his seat when he shows signs of fainting and after a while crashes on the bench in front of him: Thus begins his physical passion and begins to bleed.
    Meanwhile, the walls of the chapel, the little angels above the entrance door sparkle with drops of highly perfumed nard and the Crucifix of the chapel also drips with it so much that you can feel a few drops falling onto a cushion below which two days later will have a large stain of this perfume which, touching it with the palms of your hands rubbing against the walls even of the cloister, leave you with a sort of highly perfumed oily substance, which then leaves no trace as the perfume evaporates.
    Frà Elia comes to give us a brief greeting, but we see him suffering and retires to his room continuing his fast which began at the beginning of Lent.

    We live the day of Holy Thursday, everyone does their part. I often go to keep Fra Elia company; I notice that he suffers, his face and head are all streaks of stale blood; In the evening we celebrate Mass in Cena Domini, after reading the Gospel I propose a reflection on the profound meaning of the washing of the feet, which John even puts in place of the institution of the Eucharist, as a sincere and decisive service that characterizes every Christian and flows from every Eucharist.
    Frà Elia doesn’t leave his room today, he is in bed, always lying down, he prays, he sometimes complains especially when he changes position. We talk quietly about everything, about our life, about the need to live a faith in Jesus, in which He the Lord Jesus is at the center..

    Friday is the day of passion, the streaks of blood on the face and on the bloodied head are more evident. At 2.30 pm, helped to get dressed and stand up, we don’t know by whom, he calmly leaves his room and says he is ready to follow the Via Crucis with us. We summon all those present, some of whom are difficult to find at this hour, and, having changed our timetable, we begin the via crucis distributed in the open-air square of the church with the 14 stations from the back of the church. With his eyes almost always closed and with that battered face he follows each station. In the end, he addresses a few words to everyone that indicate the presence of Jesus and his call when we least expect it. I give the blessing, and everyone dissolving while waiting for the celebration of the adoration of the cross. Fra Elia is taken back to his room and continues his passion in silence, or rather, the passion of Jesus in his body.

    The next morning, Holy Saturday, I spend at least two hours with him. He is very prostrate and hasthe chest all raised as when you take a long breath without emitting air, with an impossible cavity under the ribs at the level of the stomach and belly, the typical respiratory cavity of someone who has no more air in his lungs.
    It is the pang of crucifix as is well testified by the studies on the Shroud.

    Afternoon – I take myself to lunch, Fra Elia has been fasting since the beginning of Lent and for a certain moment he hasn’t wanted to see anyone. Around 3.30 pm I am called because Fra Elia has reopened the room, his face is very clean, not a sign of previous wounds , the sheets are red with blood and they are immediately picked up, he is very fragile.
    I see the wound on his side, a cut of at least 4 cm, the signs of flagellation on his back, he sweats beyond belief, I hug him and tell him: be strong. A doctor tests his blood pressure and heart rate; the blood pressure is very low 70, the heartbeat 137 rather high, he can’t stand up, he is helped to get dressed; at one point he collapses to the ground while the doctor is still testing his blood pressure and gets scared because his pulse is high and the pressure is absolutely not perceived, at zero. He remains on the ground, he speaks but we don’t understand him; he will then tell us that he was meeting with the Madonna and spoke in Aramaic. The doctor is reassured by us because we know that today this is the usual behavior when his period of unconsciousness ends. After a few minutes of this dialogue, he wakes up and we lay him down in bed, he regains pressure and his heartbeats calm down. Blood oxygenation has always been over 96. Meanwhile, the other signs of wounds heal completely. We all go out, some remain to dress him because he wants to participate in the Easter vigil.

    Since he was a child, the Lord has tried it during Lent and Holy Week with fasting, not an act of will, but the body’s refusal of any food, so much so that the mother was desperate and the doctors, seeing him refuse any milk or similar food, thought only of imminent death; at Easter it began to have an appetite, to drink her mother’s milk and he flourished again. In the long chat with him he described to me that in the following years he experienced intense suffering, but without external manifestations. These began in the 1990s; not knowing the causes of these bleedings, large and long for whole days, he was taken to the hospital, where the doctors were unable to stop anything, they treated him with attention and professionalism as well as in-depth research and then let him go home in that condition . In these years, knowing that Lent and the Easter Triduum he is always invited by Christ to suffer his pains of crucifixion he is assisted in his convent and since 2019 even during the three most intense days he comes out of his room and shows himself how he is reduced and speaks to people at the end of the Via Crucis.

    The beautiful serenity that characterizes him in suffering, the calm and awareness of having to be obedient to this particular vocation that the Lord gives him help each person to put his life in order and follow the Gospel to the letter, with great faith in Gentleman. I do not claim, nor do I think, to be an interpreter of the life of Fra Elia; I’m just a friend, a witness of his correct and excellent spiritual life and I respect him. I respect his experience and I ask God to always support him in life’s trials and never let him lack his gifts for the Church and for humanity.

    Mons. Domenico Sigalini – April 21, 2021

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