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mail: Bill Thayer 
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Greater Love Hath No Man

13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Gospel according to John, ch. 15 (King James Version)


[image ALT: A rectangular brick pillar about 3 meters high, 80 cm wide, and 30 cm deep. It bears a small majolica plaque of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, and beneath it, a somewhat larger rectangular stone inscription, which is transcribed and translated on this webpage. The pillar is topped by a pediment with a roof of a dozen ceramic tiles, capped by a metal cross. It is a wayside shrine commemorating the accidental drowning of two children in Borgo Trevi, Umbria (central Italy).]

The pale pink rectangle under the majolica plaque of Mother and Child is an inscription that tells the story; the image, so often seen thruout Italy, could be banal were it not, with its inscription, so beautifully appropriate:


[image ALT: A majolica plaque of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus set in a shallow recess in a brick wall. It is a detail of a wayside shrine commemorating the accidental drowning of two children in Borgo Trevi, Umbria (central Italy).]

Sotto tuo manto accolti
Vergine Eccelsa
rivivano fra gli eletti in cielo
Emidio e Francesco Valentini
che a scampare il fratello minore Fabiano
si precipitarono in questo stagno
vittime dell' amore fraterno
il 3 luglio 1902

Gathered under thy mantle,
Virgin Most High,
— may they live again among the elect in heaven —
Emidio and Francesco Valentini
who to save their younger brother Fabiano
threw themselves into this pond
and fell victims to brotherly love
on July 3, 1902

In early Roman times and once again in the early Middle Ages, the lowlands around Trevi were underwater. The work of drying up the plain, conducted over several centuries first by Benedictine monks then by an 18c engineer, had left behind it many small ponds; and like most of them, this one too has now vanished, with only this edicola to mark its place.


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Page updated: 3 Feb 10