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What Happens to a Hub of Renaissance Florence When the Friars Move Out?

A hotel branch of the business association Confindustria has offered to adopt the building, giving rise to rumors of an umpteenth hotel in downtown Florence.

Giancarlo Carniani, president of the Confindustria branch in Florence, denied that was the motivation. “No, no, we want to give a hand so that the convent stays open for the friars,” he said. “It’s a monument and the state will have to keep that in mind when making a decision.”

He called the site commercially “untouchable.”

The Rev. Bruno Cadoré, the master of the Order of Preachers, as the head of the Dominicans is known, declined to be interviewed, and a spokeswoman said that, in any case, the master did not decide on the suppression of convents. The Rev. Aldo Tarquini, the provincial head on whose watch the closing of the convent was decided, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“If you close the convent, you are removing the soul of the place,” said Mr. D’Abramo, of the Beato Angelico association. “To suppress the convent is like dimming the lights on centuries of history.”

But any last-minute reprieve would most likely be temporary.

Mendicant orders — those like the Dominicans and the Franciscans that embrace lives of poverty — “have lost much of their original spirit, which is no longer possible to reactivate,” Father Sbaffoni said. “The world has changed too drastically for that.”

In Italy, “we are very few,” he said. “Increasingly fewer, and with fewer young people. There’s the famous point of no return, and for me these historic orders have reached it. There’s no going back.”

Source: NYT > World

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