On 1st May, the community of St Mary of the Angels in Lecceto celebrated its 50th anniversary - a red letter day for the Augustinian Recollect mothers who, for the past 50 years, have silently served the universal Church with their active prayer and contemplative life
In the presence of a large contingent of our own General Council, including Vicar General Fr Joseph Farrell and the Assistants General Fr Javier Pérez Barba and Fr Ian Wilson, as well as Frs Delfio López, Bernardino Pinciaroli and Paolo del Bianco of the Province of Italy, the nuns of Lecceto offered an evening to remember. There were songs - beautifully performed by the community, and supported in part by the choir of the University of Siena - with poems of profound depth and readings that reflected on the beauty of God in the purest Augustinian style, all of which moved a church full of faithful who did not want to miss this unique occasion.
“The performance conveyed that singular beauty and emotion that can only be born out of a deep faith,” Fr Javier Perez Barba, Assistant General for Southern Europe, told us. "The love for their own vocation as consecrated contemplatives with which they prepared the commemoration of this anniversary was immediately mirrored by the affection they received back from the members of the congregation", who, according to Fr Javier, did not hesitate to approach them to thank them for the richness of the texts they had shared, for the organisation of the event, and to encourage them to continue their commendable work.
Ancient Lecceto, sanctuary of devotion
In a climate of deep ecclesial communion and under the motto which the monastery keeps - Ilicetum vetus sanctitatis illicium - the cloistered nuns of this Italian community subsequently wrote to the General Curia to assure them that they will continue to make good the inheritance received, "seeking the vestiges of holiness in the attraction of Beauty, in the sweetness of Grace, in the restlessness of the heart, and in the experience of communion".
In the same correspondence, the mothers of Lecceto offered their thanks to the diocese of Siena and the Order of St Augustine for the unwavering support given over the years, which makes it possible, from generation to generation, "to see crowned the courage and dedication" of the cloistered life.
Before taking leave from their visitors, the community of the Monastery of Lecceto finally recalled the words of the first mothers who arrived there back in 1973, and which is still wholly relevant today: "Everything ended with much peace and joy in our hearts and with resolutions for a renewed community life. We give thanks to the Lord and present to Him our desire to continue to serve Him in constant search, continuous prayer, silence and humility of life... Always at the service of the Church and of every person who comes here in search of peace".