RORATE CÆLI: Vatican II at 50: After 900 years, the Canons of Great Saint Bernard leave Italy, and wither in Switzerland

Farewell to the Last Monk of the Great Saint Bernard in Italy

SAINT-OYEN (AOSTA [Italy]) – Father Francis Darbellay, 77, canon of the Great Saint Bernard likes to be candid. “The other day, when we left the Hostel Chateau Verdun forever, they threw a party for us. There was the Bishop of Aosta, the President of the Regional Council and our Superior. To me, it did not seem like a party at all but more like a funeral. After a thousand years, we, the priests of the Congregation of the Canon Regulars of the Great Saint Bernard, are leaving the Aosta Valley and Italy. To us, it is the death of our soul. We are leaving the land of our birth, since it was Saint Bernard of Menthon, our founder, the archdeacon at Aosta, who built the hostel that took his name, high up there on Mont-Joux [in the Vallais, Switzerland]. We had four parishes, Gervasone college and the School for Agriculture in Aosta, which taught the production of cheese and wine to thousands of young people from the valleys. The Hostel of Chateau Verdun was our last stronghold. We are like Napoleon’s army, which arrived as far as Moscow and then was compelled to turn back.”

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