Last May, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Montecassino, the Governor of New Zealand returned the Apostolic Administrator Don Augusto Ricci, a marble inlay taken away 70 years ago from amongst the ruins of the Abbey.

Last month, on September 12, as the followers of the official Facebook page of Montecassino Abbey already know, Moyra from South Africa finally had the chance to return to Montecassino a candlestick taken away immediately after the war by her father and that she strongly felt she had to return.

She deeply desired this journey, therefore her children wanted her to have it for her eightieth birthday. The joy in her eyes was so obvious to those who stood beside her that it was not difficult to believe she spoke the truth in telling about her lifelong desire to bring the candlestick back home.

Moyra was also happy to visit the Monastery in which she told she could really feel her father's presence: She spent a good time visiting the Abbey with a guide of the Monastery and sent in turn so much sweetness and enthusiasm to those around her, that they will hardly ever forget those moments.

Here follows her account of what she knows about her father's time at Cassino and how he came to get the candlestick.

"My Father Staff Sergeant David Clarkson (187647v) was born on 17 March 1902 and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. My parents married after emigrating to Durban, South Africa where my brother and I were born.

My father volunteered for military service soon after the outbreak of WW11 and joined the Cape Town Highlanders. After being stationed in Natal, SA, he was sent on active service to the desert in North Africa where he fought before being sent out to Italy.

He took part in the battle of Monte Cassino over several months - sleeping in the open.

From a letter dated June 1944, he mentions that he has the candlestick with him. On his return, he told us how on entering the destroyed monastery he saw a dead German soldier lying in the rubble holding it.

He took it from him and carried with him until he returned home. It stood on our sideboard until after both my parents had passed away and then came to me. It was always treated with great respect and affection.

Over the last decade, I have wanted to return it to the monastery and now on the occasion of my 80th birthday, along with 2 of my 4 children, we have been able to do this. Visiting Monte Cassino has been one of the major highlights of my life.

Thank you so much!"

Moyra Ford (daughter of David Clarkson)

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13 e 14 Luglio 2019 - Santa Ildegarda di Bingen

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