St. Joseph’s Retreat, Monte Argentario – founded 16th July 1761


16th July is an anniversary of the foundation of St. Joseph’s Retreat on Monte Argentario.

Father Fabiano Giorgini C.P. writes  – 

Paul (of the Cross) had noticed that in the retreat of the Presentation the health of the postulants suffered shortly after their arrival and particularly in summer. For that reason and with the advice of medical doctors he thought of founding another retreat on Argentario but in a healthier spot, one not exposed to the influence of malaria and with a brighter landscape that would be of relief to the novices. His intention was that the new retreat should form one moral body with Presentation and the two be considered one community. With this in view he wrote to the abbot of Orbetello: “I’m assured by doctors that the novices will keep healthy, and in this retreat there will be a wing of cells left available to receive ten or twelve retreatants, clerics or laymen.”

Early in November 1753 he chose the site and on the 23rd of the same month sent his request to Charles, the king of Naples, for a plot of state land on which to build. This he did through the minister and royal mayor, Don Jose Ignacio de Masdeu. On the 5th of December a favorable answer arrived in Orbetello but, for reasons we do not know, possession was not handed over until April 12, 1755. On the same day the founder requested permission of the abott of Orbetello to proceed with the foundation. On April 20th, Cardinal Sciarra said he would be happy to contribute to the building of the new retreat, as an aid to the health of the religious so necessary for the apostolate, and so that he himself could send “many more to make the spiritual exercises”. Work progressed, thanks for the offerings of various persons particuarly Joseph Francis Sanchez of Orbetello, and to the unceasing and skilled labor of Brothers Ubald Corrazzini, Charles Risoluti, Aloysius Basili and Michelangelo Coli, expert masons, kilnsmen and ironworkers. With a true spirit of sacrifice, the other religious helped by carrying building materials. As a matter of fact, for want of roads all transporting of the materials had to be done by shouldering the burdens or by mule pack.

The church was blessed and dedicated to St. Joseph, who was set before the novices as a model of labor and a master of prayerful silence. The blessing was held on 16th July 1761.

(Fabiano Giorgini, History of the Passionists, Volume 1, page 172, 173).

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