Entering the church, the cloister or the oratories of the Conventual Friars' Convent in Alghero is always a matter of deep spirituality and humanity. I have never managed to explain myself why. Sure, I think, can not just depend on me, on my will or imagination. Maybe it's "Him" who wants to use me mercy. I enter with the heart of those who want to free themselves from the evil of melancholy; to earn, on a certain day, a bit of joy. Also for others must be the same. Fifty years ago the Conventual Friars returned to Alghero after a long exodus, finding the church and convent aged and crumbling.
The friars, as in their custom, thought of the reconstruction without picturing in their minds the image of a monumental center. They understood that they had to build a new heart for the city, in an immediate and direct relationship with people. And for this reason, their pastoral activity was being addressed in several areas. In order to give back a new life to the Church and to the House of the Convent, the Friars have worked patiently, respecting the ancient structure and constructional methods, with an eye to new openings. And from that began the miracle of this complex.
– Enzo Espa
There has always been in the presence of the Friars Minor Conventual in Sardinia a wondrous weave of relationships with people.
The various settlements tell us about a pleasant meeting and union between friars and people, thanks to the ease with which Franciscan charism and local culture mutually handed, almost by natural osmosis. If it is true that they did not have to work very hard to acculturate the first.
The convent of St. Francis in Alghero, probably built in the late thirteenth century, located inside the walls of the City, has revived over time the human and social encounter of the friars with the people.
For over five centuries and a half till 1863, when it was forfeited as state property. The church, however, continued to be officiated by the religious for some time yet.
Seventy years later, on April 28, 1940, the return of the friars.
Since then, the presence, the witness, the industriousness of the friars appeared no different from previous centuries. Scrolling down the chronicle of half a century (1940-1990), we seem to be able to identify three characteristic moments: the first, of the progressive reacquisition of the environments and the concomitant vast pastoral ministry of the religious, as St. Francis was back then almost a parish; the second, of reconstruction of the premises and better definition of pastoral work; the third, of restoration of the monument (church and monastery), and of new educational and cultural impetus.
The meeting and the relationship of the friars with the people located in the ancient and artistic environments, cloister and adjacent rooms, went all these years even accentuating.
Without fear of contradiction, we can state that many important pages of history of the city have been written to St. Francis, by the friars and the people; others, not faithfully reported in official documents, certainly guessed industrious fatigue in the results, and certainly lives in the memory of those who were, in any measure, the protagonists.
It can be said that there was no town that hasn't had to St. Francis a particular resonance in reading and in socio-religious training, with proposal and response of real commitment in the local environment.
If the historical memory of the protagonists all, monks, clergy, laity, in various capacities and presence of different degrees of participation in this most recent period, will still transmit this golden thread of a story that comes from far away and that found in the fidelity fraternity, which charism of our Order, its very raison d'etre, the better you will be able to grasp the secret which made St. Francis the lung and the heart of the city of Alghero.
Lung, because the City has breathed culture in its broadest sense, giving breath and directing the same; and Heart, not just because of the location of the monument, but mainly for having loved Alghero very much and being loved in return; both discovering each other "essential" for the city, thanks to the close relationship that existed and that over time has been guaranteed by a double movement, proper of lungs and heart, from the city to St. Francis and from S. Francis to the City.
I believe that this dynamic, vital to be "heart" and "lung", has really helped to identify these fifty years from the return of the friars as a sign of a life more supportive and involved at every level. The church and cloister of the friars, can also be said to have secured and guaranteed good part of the ecclesial and civil life of the city.
The more the friars were able to live their vocation and go among the people, the more credible these stood and listened to preachers. And the more people, in turn, hosted the friars as a mission and stayed with them, and not just only in the environments of St. Francis, the more the friars felt encouraged and experienced the values of their charism: poverty , simplicity, humility, mercy, peace, joy; in a word: fraternity.
This is also the wish for the Jubilee: to be in and be part of the heart of the City. In the Franciscan spirit and in fidelity to the human heritage, artistically, spiritually, culturally inherited.
– f. Paolo Atzei (Provincial Minister)