Long ago, there were many cloistered convent in my hometown of Enna (Sicily). Over the years, they have been closed due to lack of vocations. Ten years ago, the Convent of St Mark was also abandoned. It was the last one left. The Carmelite nuns had lived there since the thirteenth century, but in the end they gave up, for they were too few to manage the large building which stood on an area of about five thousand square meters.

Yesterday, it was possible to visit a small part of it with a guide. I took some photos and tried to figure out life in a cloistered convent.

Nowadays, the world has become more and more atheist. People don’t even go to church, imagine if they lock themselves up in a convent.

Once, about one hundred and fifty Sisters lived in this place. After they crossed the threshold, they couldn’t get out anymore. Even after they died, they remained in the convent. In fact, there was a kind of cemetery in the basement where the bodies were placed on stone seats and decayed.

A long time ago, it was not easy to become a cloistered nun, for a dowry was needed. Usually, the nuns came from wealthy families and brought with them silverware and other goods.

I saw a lot of gratings in the convent. The nuns looked at the world only through the gratings, just like inmates.

Only one room on the top floor was surrounded by windows without gratings. The view was very beatiful. You could admire all of Enna from up there. A bell hung in one of the windows. Who knows what that bell was for? The guide said that the nuns came to this room to meditate. Was their life wasted? I don’t think so. A life spent searching for God is never wasted!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind


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