Father Bernardo Leads Vatican Spiritual Retreat

On February 27, 2019, Pope Francis himself called Father Bernardo Gianni, abbot of San Miniato al Monte and asked if he would lead the spiritual exercises and prayers at this year’s devotional retreat for Lent which will be held from March 10 through 15.

The call was unexpected and surprising for Father Bernardo and his initial thoughts were that he was academically unqualified since he studied classical literature rather than theology. Pope Francis complimented him on his modesty but assured him of his desire to have a monastic voice as a guide for this year’s retreat near Rome for the Curia (the Vatican hierarchy).

Father Bernardo accepted the offer and is currently bringing in meditations and testimony from life in the monastery and particularly, the life of the Benedictine community of the Florentine abbey.

“It will be the poetry of Mario Luzi to start the 10 meditations in the program. Each meditation will have as its title a verse that the Florentine writer dedicated to San Miniato,” says Father Bernardo. “That will be the starting point to develop the theme of monastic life in relation to the city it lies in.” (kelsey lentz)