The convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor is located in San Rocco, on a hill that dominates the town from the north. It was the wish of the people of Badolato who, in 1602, met in Parliament and asked the superiors of the Franciscan Order to build it. In the years that followed, the work began with the labour of the people and the funds provided by the wealthy families of the town, who taxed themselves for this purpose.

According to popular belief, the building, which was built in stages over the centuries, has 365 rooms, although this is clearly an exaggeration. It is certainly one of the largest monasteries in Calabria and perhaps the only one with two cloisters. Until the late 1970s it belonged to the Franciscan Friars Minor, who at times had their novitiate in Badolato. They had a well-stocked library, some of which has been dispersed and some of which has been transferred elsewhere.

The convent church was always open to the faithful of the village, who gathered there not only on religious holidays, the most important of which was that of St. Anthony on 13th June. The convent of the Angels was a busy place, with people coming and going all year round.

Since the mid-1980s, the convent has belonged to the Franciscan Father Eligio Gelmini, who brought a “Mondo X” community there. The young people of the community, whose numbers and personalities obviously vary, take care of all aspects of the building, devoting particular attention to the garden, which they describe as “aesthetically pleasing” and which provides a significant part of their food autonomy. These young people, who have worked tirelessly since 1986, deserve much credit for saving this important document of religious and cultural heritage from certain destruction.

Inside the church there is a wooden statue of the Virgin with angels playing instruments, linked to the legend of two heifers who, by the Virgin’s will, had the strength to carry a large tree trunk down the mountain. This was a task that several yoke of oxen could not complete. From this trunk, which the Blessed Mother had indicated in a dream, 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 the master restorer Pino Mantella and his students.

There is also a beautiful pulpit and a crucifix by Fra Diego himself, who left precious wooden sculptures in Sicily (where he was born), Calabria, Campania, Lombardy and other places. A monumental wooden choir, still in good condition, is waiting to be restored and returned to its place. Unfortunately, an artistic Via Crucis attributed to the great Mattia Preti has disappeared.

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