Concert for Don Aldo Mei (1912-1944) - 3 August 2015

When I was invited by my friend Mattia Campetti to attend a concert in Pescaglia I learnt a great deal more about Don Aldo Mei since the name was vaguely familiar as it appears on many street names throughout the province of Lucca. A brief résumé of his life below is taken from the tourism portal of Capannori, Lucca.

Don Aldo Mei was born in Ruota, Municipality of Capannori (Lucca), on the 5th of March 1912.  He was aged seven when he was confirmed in Pieve di Compito by the Archbishop of Lucca on the 24th of June 1919. As a deeply religious and spiritual boy he joined the archiepiscopal Seminary of Lucca on the 6th of October 1926 aged fourteen, took vows in December that year and also ‘took the tonsure’ in San Frediano in Lucca. After taking minor vows in San Martino (Cathedral of Lucca) in 1932 he became a subdeacon at San Giovanni (Lucca’s oldest church) on 10th November 1934 before becoming deacon at the cathedral the following month on 22ndDecember. He became a priest on 29th June 1935 aged twenty-three taking a Solemn Mass in Ruota, his home town, the next day. He was appointed as the parson in the small church at Fiano in Pescaglia on 14th August 1935. On 2nd of August 1944 he was imprisoned by the German Nazis that occupied Lucca on charges of giving aid to Jewish children and the local partigiani or partisans. Two days later on 4th August he was taken outside the walls between Porta Elisa and Baluardo San Salvatore where he was shot dead, just a month before Lucca was liberated by US forces. After an initial burial in Lucca on 6th August he was reburied after the war in Ruota in 1949 and his body was finally interned at the church in Fiano in 1987.  Much recent work, including eye-witness accounts, has been done to gather and archive Aldo Mei’s letters and other writings that will give a future in-sight into the life and thoughts of this brave young priest.

The concert celibrating the 71st anniversary of Don Aldo Mei’s death was held at the church of San Pietro e San Paolo di Pescaglia where the altar was poignantly decorated with sacking, shrubs and barbed wire. Thirteen pieces of music were sung and played with piano and or organ accompaniment that ranged from Handel, Bach, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini. The church was full of locals from Pescaglia and many from Lucca journeyed the narrow roads that lead to the pretty town. Needless to say the music and singing was wonderful and inspiring, the commentary informative and the event was a joy that underlined the desire for peace and the mission as exemplified by the life of this young priest from Lucca.