Tuesday 23 October 2018


Parish of Saint Egidio Abate sec. XV- 1986


At the beginning of the 15th century, a civilian overseer was put in charge, but under his direction the mona­stery became even more impoverished. Fi­nally in the year 1473, Saint Egidio was taken over by the Republic of Venice and was listed as a part of the patrimony of the Basilica of Saint Marks. When the Vene­tians arrived to take legal possession of the property, they found only two or three very old monks still living in the ancient cloisters in extreme poverty. What was left of the buildings on the property, all heavily mort­gaged, was fast falling into ruins. With the departure of the last monks, the buildings were soon occupied by local peasants. After another lapse of time, the church was re­paired and services were held there once more. With the passing of the years, the Vene­tian Republic decided to sell the property of La Fontanella.To meet the heavy costs of their war against the Turks, in 1668 Venice accepted the offer of the princely Giovanel­lifamily of Bergamo. Through this purcha­se made by Giovanelli, La Fontanella pro­perty returned to the Diocese of Bergamo. The church was put in order and raised to the dignity of a parish. At the beginning of the present century the head of the Giovanelli family, Alberto, undertook at his own expense to restore the church which threatened to collapse. The contract was let to Carlo Bianchi in 1909. By the year 1950 the farmers living at La Fontanella had increased in number and they began to purchase their farm houses and barns from the Giovanelli family, and to become small land owners. The parish priest Don Giacomo Carminati began a se­ries of buildings and improvements at La Fontanella in 1953. He and his parisho­ners were encouraged by the Patriarch of Venice, Monsignor Angelo Roncalli (who was later to become one of the most famous and beloved Popes of all time, Giovanni XXIII). After 1960 the Congregation of the Servants of Maria installed a small comu­nity of monks, led by Father David Maria Turoldo, who soon founded a center for ecumenic studies, named after the Pope. The House of Emmaus Giovanni XXIII was soon built near the church and is still active today.

BIBL. U. ZANETTI, Il monastero di Sant’Egidio a Fontanella di Sotto il Monte, Ed. Bergamo, Bergamo 1993, pp. 124-136.