Monasteries in the Euganean Hills
MONASTERIES IN THE EUGANEAN HILLS
A camaldolese monk from sixteenth century Hermitage of Mount Rua, Torreglia (Padua) in the heart of the Euganean Hills, while passing by the railway station was immediately interviewed by a journalist about his reactions being in a mess of people who came and went.
The monk, of polish origin, gave an incredible answer: I think that here time runs faster than my soul!. In the frenzy of the post-modern world, people suffering from strong soul uneasiness. We are not intended to list all these "existential problems" that are the result of a lack of silence, thinking, and maybe also a lack of contemplative prayer, in order to find a new motivation in "the hard job of living" (C. Pavese).
The Euganean Hills with all their vast greenery, offer a natural place in which really the time cannot run faster than man's soul. They are a marvelous group of hills of volcanic origin rising, as an archipelago, from the Po-Venetian Plain, few kilometers from the south west of Padua, in which a well known thermal area, able to welcome hosts under treatment and holiday makers of the wide world, is placed. The only city of Abano Terme counts one hundred and thirty high level hotels. The Mount Venda that rises to 600 meters is the highest, and its Rai antenna receives and transmits all programs in the large north- eastern area.
But what really radiates a great positivity are the numerous Monasteries, which affirming the supremacy of God, in reflective silence shout the supremacy of the heavenly Sun over the darkness of the world. Just think about the well known Benedictine Monastery of Praglia; the Camaldolese Convent of S. Daniele; the above mentioned Camaldolese Hermitage of Mount Rua, the Hermitage-Sanctuary of the Mount of the Madonna.
Together with these there are numerous Houses of spirituality, true spiritual lungs: Villa Immacolata on the Mount Rua slope with the Hermitage of S. Luca near the ancient parish house of Torreglia, Villa Assunta in Luvigliano, Casa Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart House) in Torreglia. The beloved pope Giovanni Paolo II stated that in the faith geography, Sanctuaries are a true clinic for the soul.
Among all, the Sanctuary of Abano Terme, together with the adjacent splendid Augustinian Monastery, very close to the city of Padua, according to a design of Pietro Lombardo, was erected on the Euganean Hills in 1428, during a terrible pestilence, in the same place in which the Madonna appeared to the Knight Pietro Falco. This knight had serious problems in its legs joints because of the wounds suffered as man at arms. Upon advice of doctors he retreats to restore praying in the wood at the foot of the hill of Monteortone. But, time passed and he didn't succeed in restoring his health. He intensified his prayers, refreshed by a warm water spring, abandoned by the Village inhabitants. But in the heart of this reflective experience, an extraordinary miracle happened: a lighting cloud came down from the mount, covered the grove and the white figure of the Virgin Mary appeared and she said: Go, Pietro, and wash yourself in this spring and you will regain health. Once recovered, look in the waters deep, because, covered by stones you will find a painting depicting my image. Show to everyone, for favours received, the discovery painting, stating that this woodland place is under my protection and that I hope that in future the name of my Holy Child and mine is here respected. In confirmation of what you will say to them, take an olive branch from this mount, symbol of peace for the Paduan people and of reconciliation with God who, listening to my prayers, forgiving their sins, is delighted to free them from the plague of pestilence. Take an oak branch too, symbol of stable and perpetual care that I want to have in this place. The oak branch, surrounding your head, will wither, and touching your hip with it, it will green again. The olive branch will wither on your hip and will green again when you will surround your head with it. Pietro obeyed and wetting his legs, they regained strength and agility. Once he recovered, he remembered the promises of the Madonna. He looked among the stone of the spring and, astonished found the painting which was at all damaged by the thermal water and depicting the Mother of God with a lovely maternal attitude, with, on the right, S. Cristoforo martyr and, on the left, S. Antonio Abate. It was May of 1428. The news travelled fast among the towns of the euganean area and this caused the continuous rush of sightseers and faithful, healthy and sick persons, peasants and nobles.
The pilgrim House close to the Sanctuary makes the reception of groups of pilgrims and single persons easier. The spiritual retreats and the spiritual dialogue, the sacramental confessions, the liturgy and the personal and communal prayer , in the Euganean Hills, let us understand that we are not alone and that the soul must control the time in which the Providence and the Mother of all human beings reside.
The Euganean Hills are a natural store of peace and spiritual relief, for the non-believers too. A return to nature which is not a trend, but a return to the beauty of all creation and to the simplicity of life. Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures Francesco d'Assisi prayed. He became the voice of all creatures and glorified the One who is the extraordinary Creator and Lord of all creation and every man.