There is a man called Massimo Coppo who has no shoes or sandals on his feet and wears a hessian robe as he walks the streets of Assisi. I was intrigued to see such such a site in this lovely little town. Generally the Italians and tourists gave him a wide berth.
Why do I know this man’s name?
I had a couple of chats with him and bought his book, “From the Land of Assisi and of Francis the Spirit of prophecy” with a 5 euro donation. I felt that it was the right thing to do. Massimo told me about his non-profit organisation, the community of Benedictine. He says that he has lived here since 1980.
As the story goes, Massimo studied in the United States gaining a couple of qualifications including a Degree in Agriculture. Then he decided to give away all his possessions, money and home turning to God , and followed a man called Marcello Ciai whom he described in the book as a prophet. Massimo saw Marcello as highly saintly and likens their life of poverty to that of St Francis and his fellow Brothers who lived over 800 years ago.
From what Massimo was telling me and from what I could glean from his book, donations go toward the rural community house outside Assisi. The house is available to all travellers who need a free bed.
Massimo sleeps outside at night near the Basilica when he is in Assisi. Then in the morning he crawls a 100metres or so up to the Basilica.
I followed him! And what he did was crawl inside the door, wipe his hands and feet and then walk to a quiet altar where he knelt and prayed. He did not attend the Mass in process at another altar. He was ignored by the priests, monks and nuns.
Maybe, this man who lives in poverty and without any worldly possessions is a holy man, but he definitely appears very wacko.