The Convent of the Minor Franciscan Fathers is located in Saint Rocco, on a hill overlooking the village from the north. It was desired by the people of Badolato who, in 1602, gathered in Parliament and requested it to the Superiors of the Franciscan Order. The work started in the following years with the labor of the people and the funds provided by affluent families of the town who self-taxed for this purpose.
The building, built over the centuries in different stages, “is said”, according to popular belief, to have 365 rooms, although it is clearly an exaggeration. However, it is certainly one of the largest Convents in Calabria, and perhaps the only one with two cloisters. Until the late 1970s, it was owned by the Minor Franciscans, who at times also had their Novitiate in Badolato. They had a well-stocked library, which has partly been dispersed and partly transferred elsewhere.
The Convent Church has always been open for the worship of the faithful of the village, who gathered there not only on religious holidays, the most important of which was that of St. Anthony on June 13th. The “Angels” Convent was a bustling place, with people coming and going throughout the year.
Since the mid-1980s, the Convent was owned by the Franciscan Father Eligio Gelmini, who brought “Mondo X” Community to reside there. The young people in the Community, obviously variable in numbers and individuals, care for all the aspects of the structure, particularly devoting themselves to the garden, which they describe as “aesthetically pleasing” and that provides a significant portion of their food autonomy. These young people, with their uninterrupted work since 1986, deserve great credit for saving this important document of religious and cultural heritage from certain demise.
Inside the Church, there is a wooden group of Our Lady with the Angels playing instruments, connected to the legend of two heifers who, by the will of Our Lady, had the strength to bring a large log from the mountain. This was an undertaking that several yokes of oxen had failed to complete. From that log, indicated in a dream by Our Lady, Father Diego from Careri created the beautiful statue that can still be admired today. In 2020, thanks to the initiative and support of local associations and individuals, it was taken to the Restoration Laboratory of the Cathedral of Gerace, where the group was finally restored by Master Restorer Pino Mantella and his students.
There are also the beautiful pulpit and a crucifix by Fra Diego himself, who left valuable wooden sculptures in Sicily (his birth region), Calabria, Campania, Lombardy, and other places. A monumental wooden choir, still in good condition, is awaiting restoration and to be returned to its place. Unfortunately, an artistic Via Crucis, attributed by some to the great Mattia Preti, disappeared.