Our Lady of Montevergine
by Mr. Charles A. Connell, Fayetteville, NC, USA
(Fayetteville, NC, USA)
In 1945-1946, I served as a very young soldier in the USA Army. I was stationed for most of that time in the MTOUSA headquarters in Caserta, Italy, north of Naples. We were a multinational army group (American, English, Italian, French, Free Polish) responsible for Allied forces in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations.
Our Catholic Chaplin, Fr. Kilmartin, formed a Holy Name Society unit with American and British soldiers. He arranged for many visits to pilgrimage sites in Italy, including a weekend at St. Padre Pio's monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo, where we met and talked with Padre Pio.
One of our pilgrimages was to the Monastery of Monte Vergine, near Avellino. We trucked up the mountainside on a cold day in the winter of 1946. after the war had ended. The monks at the monastery met us, and showed us through the chapel, explaining its history. Afterwards. the good monks served us spaghetti and delicious, hot sauce, with glasses of red wine. What a beautiful experience all of this was for GIs so far away from home and loved ones!
I recall one unique item of piety and devotion which I haven't read about in all the literature I've seen concerning this chapel. In the center of the chapel, on a raised, stone platform, there was the body of a monk. He seemed to be in a deep sleep, with his arms folded on his chest, dressed in his Benedictine habit. As I recall, we were told that this monk had died many years ago, but his body had not corrupted. I would be interested if anyone reading this could elaborate on this matter.
I'm now 87, and my time in this life is limited. For all these years, I have retained a deep devotion to Our Lady of Monte Vergine, I call on her for her prayers and intercession for me every evening in my final daily prayers. There was something moving and really spiritual that we experienced in our visit to the chapel of Our Lady of Monte Vergine, and I'm indebted to the good priests, monks and people of Italy who introduced us to Our Lady in her chapel..