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Here is a short account of the vicissitudes lived, in the land of Assisi, by Massimo Coppo and
 his community "Famiglie di Betlemme", founded in 1980 by Marcello Ciai,
the prophet of Assisi.


From an article published in that period by an important national newspaper in the Front Page:


Front Page


You are an Heretic ?
Therefore I withdraw your driver's licence!



Barefoot, and humbly clothed in sackcloth, a placard round his neck and staring-eyes, he seemed to be more like the image of a Franciscan "sui generis" than that of a convinced heretic. It was the 30th of October 1998 and one week later, Massimo Coppo, fifty-one years old, with a degree in Agriculture with full marks, a family, various acres of land between the hills of Assisi, found out that five minutes on St. Peter's Square, barefoot and sackclothed can change your life. After a week from that peaceful, harmless and painless demonstration, he has become an "unwanted person", addressee of an expulsion-order and excluded from the capital for at least one year. Furthermore, after a month of that same 30th of October 1998 even more happened: Coppo found out that he cannot even drive anymore neither a car nor a tractor.
The Prefecture of Perugia, in fact, withdrew his driver's licence because they considered immoral.
...Massimo Coppo had a direct clash with the inspectors of the Vatican and with article 120 of the highway-code.
The first are in control of public order within the Vatican-City, the other values the morality of the car-driver and regulates in this way the possession of the driver's licence.
Let the immoral tremble, the driver's licence has been marked.

Yet in Rome he arrived only to demonstrate against the declaration of heresy with which his group, the community Bethlehem Families, had been charged......

In Vatican clothed in rags:  is an heretic, let's take his driver's license.

He is considered an heretic, but only because he was clothed in rags and so, like Saint Francis, he went to the Vatican.
His name is Massimo Coppo and due to his firm beliefs he has been pointed at by the church.  Also the State chased him. An old rule of the highway-code explains that for having the driver's license one needs to be morally integral. A heretic is not so, the more over if consignee, as he is, of an expulsion order. Therefore the Prefecture, based on the  report of the police, took his driver's license.

Sergio Goretti bishop of Assisi

Here the text of the placard from which has originated the whole case :
( from the notification published by the Bishop of Assisi in February 1994 against the "Community Famiglie di Betlemme" and its founder Marcello Ciai )


A) This group, notwithstanding the  remarkable efforts to bring it back in the bosom of the Church, is heretic.
They believe in fact to have the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel, present above all in the person of Marcello Ciai.
B) It has changed residence and name.  Denominated itself  "Oriente Fumante"  to remember the covenant God had stipulated with Abraham, which the group through the spirit of Ezekiel, intended to restore in its primitive situation. Then they called themselves "Comunità dei Centoniani" for the fact that its members had to wear cloths made of 100 patches or wear sackcloths and go around barefooted to manifest the necessity that the Church has to be purified.
Hence they assumed the name of "Famiglie di Betlemme" and now that of International Association of Christian Activity.
C) The group various times has distinguished itself for public offence against the ecclesial hierarchy and institutions.

                                                              +    Sergio  Goretti 



The editorial-staff of the IACA retains necessary, answering to those who ask explanations as to the notification of the bishop, to clarify that :

1 - The notification involves and confuses the IACA, being a NON PROFIT association and thus an institutional reality, with the Famiglie di Betlemme”, a small monastic community of families which lives for over thirty years its prophetic vocation in the Land of Assisi.  

2 - For the so-called "public offences" we do not believe that you can consider "offences" critical expressions or of disagreement on the declarations and/or behaviours of an ecclesiastic authority.

3 - It is not true that the community and Marcello Ciai believe to have the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel.

For more information write directly to: bethlem@assisi-francesco.net


Here a peculiar comment:

From the important Italian newspaper "La Stampa" an article signed by the famous writer Guido Ceronetti, regarding another vision preceding for a little the attempt on the Pope of 1981.

...The breakdown between prophetism and priesthood is always inevitable. Nevertheless, turning over the pages  of the smoking prophecies of  Marcello (today about sixty, white beard, human warmth) you read, that on the first of May 1981 he had the vision of the Pope seriously ill, standing "behind a small white hospital table".
Thirteen days later there was the attempt of Agcà, and it is true that the Pope, though injured, remained "on his feet"....

Guido Ceronetti



Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino, one of the editors of the work entitled "Sense of divine and mistery of God in Giordano Bruno" makes an analysis which finishes with an absolutory "imagination" of the Dominican ended up on the stake in 1600: "We know - Monsignor Sorrentino writes - that the Christ,  inseparable from his Church, is however bigger than it and is operating far beyond its visible frontiers."

H.E. Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino Archbishop  - Prelate Emeritus -


Request of the Papal audience....

And here is the text of Massimo Coppo's request to the Pope always dressed with sackcloth, barefoot
and fasting at Castel Gandolfo:


Holiness,  love and pace

This morning I have been coming from Assisi and I stay very near to your residence.
I ask for the grace to have a short audience (the guards at the main-entrance did suggest me to write you).

My community at Assisi, "Comunità Familie di Betlemme", being excommunicated since seven years now, without the grace of the sacrements and ecclesiastic communion,declared heretic without any notice - as has been done on the contrary for Monsignor Milingo - particularly with regard to the person of its founder Marcello Ciai.
Interest for this painful case has been shown, amongst others, by TG5(*1) and the Encyclopaedia of the Religions in Italy edited by Cesnur.

Many prelates did tell us that at this point only Your Holiness can remove this excommunication, if God wants so. At least for the children who are making part of the community.

I'll stay at the outside of Your palace in penance, until the Lord does not grant me to see You Holiness.



Unfortunately the result after ten days of waiting has been negative: Massimo Coppo named Mimon lost 10 kilos of weight, but has not been received by the Pope.
And then Angela Groesser, President of the IACA, did go there.


Thus how it did continue and where persecution has arrived

On the 2nd day of the month of July 1999 at 13.50 pm at Rocca Sant'Angelo in the Community "Famiglie di Betlemme", police-officers of the Criminal Investigation Department, belonging to the Police Station of Assisi, proceeded with the perquisition in mentioned site, in presence of Doctor Massimo Coppo,  for the verification of the presence of weapons, munitions or explosive materials, not registered or anyway detained. (Art. 41 of T.U.L.P.S.)
The perquisition has been finished at 14.40 pm of 02/07/1999, giving a negative result.
And thus acknowledging that nothing has been found or been seized.




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Heretic without driver's license
goes on foot to do penance

The case of Massimo Coppo who had his driver's license withdrawn, because he was considered an heretic. He made a tour all over Italy and fired the imagination of Pino the talented cartoonist.

Finally in 2006, this suffered story which begun on the 11th of February 1994,
has ended successfully: the then Bishop of Assisi Monsignor Sergio Goretti
after having revoked the notification of "heresy" has redeemed the
"Community Families of Bethlehem" within the Catholic Church.

This work which God has allowed within the Catholic Church,
now continues under the guidance of Archbishop Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino.


This document that follows is very important,

it is in fact the Blessing written in his own hand by the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger for our Association;

Blessing that has brought good to us and to him who then has become Pope.

All the vicissitudes undergone by the Association IACA,

by Massimo Coppo and by the Community Families of Bethlehem are cancelled and rewarded abundantly.



Massimo Coppo called Francesco today

Here is one of the many articles and the many photos spread all over the world in the days of the Conclave, on Massimo Coppo who prays at St. Peter's in the Vatican for the election of a Pope who would love the poor and draw inspiration from Saint Francis

Abstract of the article: 'Sacred echo' presages pope choice, of Cathleen Falsani,
on the Californian daily newspaper on line “ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER”


"Sacred Echo": when God wants to get our attention, God doesn't just whisper once and move on. The message comes to us in echoes from many sources and in many forms…

In St. Peter's Square, the night before Pope Francis' election, the echo turned up most powerfully as a barefoot, sackcloth-wearing pilgrim named Massimo Coppo. A devotee of St. Francis of Assisi, Coppo, who lives in intentional poverty (sleeping under the porticoes of the basilica of Assisi), had come to the Vatican Square the night we met to pray for the cardinals in the conclave and for the church itself – that all would be "healed" from corruption and disunity. "I hope it will be a pope who is poor or who understands the poor," Coppo answered when I asked who he hoped the 266th pope would be. "Many people are poor and becoming poor.... A pope that speaks of eternity – of paradise – and even of hell in a world that doesn't like it." That makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Less than 24 hours later, Cardinal Bergoglio – a Jesuit who has taken a vow of poverty and lives a life of simple austerity despite his role as a prince of the church; a man who has spent his entire ordained ministry reaching out to the sick and impoverished, shunned and disenfranchised people of his native Argentina – stepped into St. Peter's sandals and chose Francis as the name by which the world (and history) will know him. I had seen Coppo in St. Peter's square a few hours before Pope Francis appeared on the basilica's central loggia. "Buona sera, Massimo," I said as I walked past him kneeling prayerfully on a sewer grate while strangers gawked and snapped pictures of him. "Buona sera, signora," he replied, peering up at me from under his burlap hood with gentle, ice blue eyes, after the world met Pope Francis who, as you know, forsook the formal liturgical greeting scripted for him and instead greeted the world with a simple, informal "Buona sera". The next day, Pope Francis preached his first homily in the Sistine Chapel to his brother cardinals. He rejected a text prepared for him in Latin and spoke extemporaneously in Italian (without notes) and boldly about sin, repentance, the Devil, Jesus and the cross.

Apart from the Holy Spirit, which we are told hovers over papal conclaves guiding the cardinals as they silently pray and cast their votes, Coppo might have been the only one in Vatican City not surprised by Pope Francis…



Books on a prophetic work risen in Assisi more than thirty years ago, which is involving the world.

A short biographic account concerning the author:

Massimo Coppo, son of the writer and teacher of Arts and Philosophy Alberto Coppo, was born at Foligno (Perugia) the 10th of May, 1948. He received a diploma in classical studies (liceo classico), and won a scholarship of the American Field Service, so attending the Columbus High School in the State of Indiana. Later he took a degree in agricultural sciences, with first class honours, then becoming a teacher. He left everything after the meeting with Marcello Ciai, and held as a volunteer in the Association IACA the task of treasurer and responsible for the agricultural sector. Since 2010, after a particular call he is staying night and day in Assisi, in a penitential mission of prayer and Christian witness.

(Here some pieces of a beautiful article published in the "Corriere dell’Umbria" on Massimo Coppo of Assisi)

St. Francis is alive!
By Carlo Antonio Ponti

Today’s Francis, which you can meet in the evening under the portico of the Basilica of Assisi, elevated to accommodate
the pilgrims and penitents, calves and feet purple from the cold because barefoot
- Francis he says, went barefoot, only after receiving the Sacred Stigmata, Santa Chiara forced him to put on sandals -
and dressed in a jute sack with a hood...
While talking he asks me who I am, I say I'm a reporter, then the lay brother covered with rags and a woolly beard and lived legs,
confides to me that his father too was a journalist and a writer. I ask about the name: "Alberto Coppo".
I exclaim that I knew him well, but look what a case! No, it's Providence, he whispers, the light in the blue eyes that defy the frost and the dark.
Alberto Coppo! His "Fuori Verde" in 1957 won the Prix Européen of Geneva for unpublished novels.
The little poor of January 2013, his son, his name is Massimo, is about sixty years old, he has a degree of master
frequented in the United States, he has a degree in agricultural sciences with first class honours in Perugia.
Now Massimo (Coppo) goes barefoot in the streets of Umbria - I am sure happier than Depardieu and Putin -,
with a sack and a cane in perfect joy in the footsteps of who married Lady Poverty.









Interesting, current world events