What this tells us about the state of Catholicism in Italy, I really don’t know; but as an example of shear hypocrisy it takes a lot of beating. It was just so blatant. It’s one of those cases where if you didn’t laugh you’d probably cry!
This young monk was walking along in Rome, quite close to me and I had a chance to observe him closely from the back and the front. His robe was just like the one I’d seen in pictures of St Francis of Assisi. Brown, ankle length, revealing sandalled feet with no socks, and a white rope round his middle with the obligatory 3 knots to remind him of his 3 vows: poverty, chastity and obedience.
Except that there wasn’t much poverty in evidence, quite the contrary: his tunic was clearly brand new, yet it bore several completely unnecessary patches, of different colours, all equally shining new. It was all for show!. By his patches he was boasting “look how poor I am! Aren’t I good!” By their newness and superfluity he was showing that he wasn’t poor at all – he was a complete fake!