What did Father Camillus Write to his Religious Brother Fr. Biagio?

Servo et sudito fidelissimo

A letter, when you put it in an envelope, changes completely.
It is no longer mine but becomes yours.
What I wanted to say has disappeared.
Only what you understand remains’

IMG_2078An e-mail of a dear friend of line, the head of the Office for Pastoral Care in Health of the Diocese of Imola, which arrived two weeks ago, pointed out to me the discovery at the Bergamo antiques fair of a little painting/reliquary (with a seal on the back) containing two signed letters written by our Founder Camillus de Lellis to Fr. Biagio Opertis. The head of this antiques shop is a trustworthy man – an expert for courts of law and for the Chamber of Commerce of Parma.

Interested in the question, Fr. Vittorio Paleari, the Provincial Superior of the Province of Italy, had a meeting with this antiques dealer and after buying the small canvas gave it to the museum that is located at our generalate house.

Both of these letters, as one can see from the pictures, are folded more than once in order to highlight the signature of Camillus!

Each of these letters is bound by a thread of satin with a seal in red sealing wax containing the seal of our Order.

IMG_2073The most obvious question that arises – with a healthy curiosity – as regards this little painting is: what did Father Camillus write to Fr. Biagio?

That is another chapter of this event. For the moment we will try to resist the temptation of opening these two sheets which have come down to us from about four hundred years ago, given their extreme fragility, while waiting for some expert restorer to offer us some useful suggestions as to how this could be done.

Certainly we know one thing: Camillus professed himself the ‘servo et sudito fidelissimo’ (‘Most faithful servant and subject’) of Fr. Biagio. This final ending of the first letter – beyond any likely formality of salutation – in itself attests to the esteem and trust that these two religious brothers felt for each other.