Archive | 2:45 AM

Franciscan Hermitage of Le Celle, Cortona

12 Jun

The Franciscan Hermitage of Le Celle, one of the most beautiful and spiritual places in Cortona, was built in the foothills of Monte S. Egidio in a natural gorge carved out by a stream.


This hill-top monastery, a few miles from the center of Cortona, was founded in 1211 by St. Francis of Assisi and some of his followers. It was then they built the original nine “cells” providing the Hermitage with the name Le Celle ever since.


When you enter the area, you are reminded of the nature of the holy space as well as encouraged to be open to all it has to offer.

Brothers and Sister, the presence of St. Francis of Assisi has sanctified this place…


In 1226, a few months before his death, St. Francis dictated his will here. Brother Elia is credited with carrying out the details of the will and ensured that the Hermitage reflected all aspects of Franciscan life. It is believed he created the chapel, shown below, in front of the small “cell” where St. Francis lived for a few years. (Friar Chuck, thinking of you as we walked the grounds.)



The door from the chapel to St. Francis’ cell is shown upper right.  His small cell, shown below, is just large enough for a bed (wooden plank far wall), a table and a chair, as prescribed by St. Francis himself.


Over the years and after the death of Brother Elia, Le Celle had different religious occupants and was eventually abandoned. In 1537, however, the Capuchins, the Third Order of Franciscans, took over the facility. They enlarged the Hermitage and in 1634, erected a new chapel shown below, dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua. The simple architecture of the chapel reflects the unpretentiousness of the Capuchins. The altar is made of wood and there are no paintings or decorations.


Today, Le Celle is home to seven Capuchin Friars and offers lodging to those considering vocational life.


The amazing structure is as serene as it is beautiful, especially in the early evening as the sun is setting over the valley.



Because there has been so much rain this spring, this waterfall, usually dry in June, is running at full speed.


Hoping that I learned enough from my brief iMovie lessons, I leave you with a few sights and sounds of Le Celle.



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