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Priest held as 'prisoner of love'

Italian villagers who walled their priest up in his friary to prevent him from leaving have finally been persuaded to let him go.

The Capuchin Franciscans decided to withdraw from the mountainous Abruzzo region of east-central Italy after 428 years of service. After unsuccessfully appealing to the Order's Provincial and to the local bishop, residents bricked up the main entrance to the 17th Century Convento della Madonna del Perpetuo Soccorso to prevent its sole occupant, 67-year-old Fr Emilio Succhiella, from leaving.

They secured other doors with chains and padlocks and mounted a 24-hour guard outside.

Fr Succhiella, who had arrived in Trasacco only last December after serving as a missionary in Colombia, appeared bemused by his situation. He said he was bound by his vows to obey his superiors but did not see how he could at the moment.

"I consider myself a prisoner of love", he said.

After intervention from police and church authorities, Fr Succhiella persuaded his captors to release him because to the need to be obedient to the will of his superiors. Bowing to the inevitable, the villagers finally agreed.

The Tablet

Fedeli convento murano frate per evitarne trasferimento (Vivacity Napoli)
Comune di Trasacco | Chiese

16 Sep 2003