Will Gino Bartali be blessed? The private chapel and its 200 letters

The beatification process started in 2018. The Pope wants Gino’s “journey” to Rome

“Gino Bartali was the symbol of the link between the Church and cycling”. David Lappartient, the president of the UCI (the world federcycle) is in Rome to deliver the certification of his affiliation to the Vatican Athletics: the 200th in the world, the first of the Vatican signed by an international sports federation (recognition for padel and taekwondo, there are also hopes for athletics). Now even the Pope’s team is in effect part of the world of cycling and it is impossible not to think about the toscanaccio on two wheels, his profound religiosity, his love story with his wife Adriana full of a profound “sharing of faith. “.


There is a moment of great emotion in the room where the ceremony is organized in the presence of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which ranges from the design of a bicycle attributed to Leonardo da Vinci to the medium as a modern tool of “practice” pastoral “for many priests. He too cites Bartali, Bartali as an example of a path, a story, a journey. Gioia, the niece, tells of those long letters found, almost 200, that Gino wrote to Adriana and which expressed a deep devotion. It is she who followed and follows the cause of canonization of her grandfather who died in 2000 after a life full of successes, but above all characterized by a deep, unbeatable bond with people. “Becoming Blessed or Saint would not serve for his memory, but for all of us, for our community, for families”. Bartali, the man who carried false documents in the frame of his bike to escape the Nazis and allow the salvation of many Jewish citizens, Bartali who hosted a family that risked concentration camps during the war, Bartali that all this did not he never told in life “why good is done but not said”, an argument that can weigh in the process that could lead to his beatification. Bartali who was a Carmelite tertiary (buried in those clothes), very devoted to Saint Teresa of Liseux. The process began three years ago and is obviously a very long and complex process. Meanwhile, some nuns from Florence have transcribed his letters to Adriana. Covid then slowed down the collection of testimonies, but now we plan to start again.


Without forgetting that Gino’s teaching is a precious present to “spend” in the world of sport. With the federal president Cordiano Dagnoni, there is his predecessor Renato Di Rocco, protagonist of the sporting diplomatic work for the entry of Vatican Athletics into the UCI, and Vito Cozzoli, president of Sport and health. Norma Gimondi, Felice’s daughter, represents the president of Coni, Giovanni Malagò, and the example of her father. Who would have shared Bartali’s motto told by Gioia: “If sport is not solidarity and a school of life, it is useless”. Attilio Nostro, now bishop of Mileto in Calabria, has named an oratory in Monte Mario, in the north of Rome, after Bartali. It is he who tells of a “promise” from Pope Francis: a symbolic pilgrimage that starts right from that place and touches the Capitol, the Quirinal, the Synagogue and St. Peter’s. The bishop also tells of a special meeting. The one with Egan Bernal’s mother, the last pink jersey of the Giro: “She is the one who told me that Gino Bartali is one of the myths of her son”.


Gino also wrote to Adriana from the Giro and the Tour. On the days of the stage he needed a postcard, on the days off he had time for a letter. “I am writing to you as midnight falls …”. Gioia reads one of these letters and does not hide his admiration, the grandfather always signs himself “Yours in the Lord”. The idea of ​​doing something good, of always finding a way to be good recurs in the many thoughts shared with his wife and with the constant reference to God. Bartali had also built a small chapel in his home, now kept in the Museum of Memory. of Assisi. “But there was no vanity – says Gioia -, it was a way not to annoy the Church when his presence distracted people and sometimes he was forced to hide behind the organ”.


Bartali is also a piece of the history of Italy. Those who have had the privilege of knowing it, of crossing the peninsula looking at its popularity with their own eyes, can testify to it. That hand that by dint of being squeezed millions of times made him suffer, the sandwich that following a stage he would take out at lunchtime. His comments between the cutting and affectionate, the effort to always understand the interlocutor, whoever was in front of him. Vatican Athletics, which begins its new adventure with Vatican Cycling, will also race in his memory.

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Will Gino Bartali be blessed? The private chapel and its 200 letters

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