Br Virgilio Canio Corbo


Br Virgilio Canio Corbo

Death 6 Dec 1991 (aged 73)
Burial Tiberias, Northern District, Israel
Plot Next To The Venerated House Church He Excavated In Capharnaum.
Memorial ID 26398762 View Source
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On December 6, 1991, Friar Virgilio Canio Corbo OFM., died, only five months after a terrible disease was discovered that struck his vigor. He was 73.

A Franciscan Friar and Professor of Archaeology at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem. Remembered for the excavations of many Religious Sites, including :

* the Shepherds' Field near Bethlehem
* the Place of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
* the Fortress of Herod the Great ("Herodion")
* another Herodian Fortress across the river Jordan (The "Machaerus")
* a Byzantine Basilica and Monastery on Mt. Nebo in Jordan
* the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and
* the Ancient City of Magdala.

Frair Corbo hailed from Avigliano, Province of Potenza, Italy. He came very young to Palestine as a pupil of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. He celebrated his Fiftieth Anniversary of his stay in the Holy Land in 1988. Soon after graduating in Rome in Christian Oriental Studies, he undertook a long teaching career in the Franciscan Seminary and in the Franciscan Biblical School in Jerusalem. Corbo shall be remembered in history for excavating many important Holy Places: the Shepherds' Field near Bethlehem between 1946 and 1954, the Place of the Ascension on the Mt. of Olives in 1959, the Fortress of Herod the Great called the "Herodion" near Bethlehem between 1962 and 1967, another Herodian Fortress across the River Jordan called Machaerus from 1967 till 1981), a Byzantine Basilica and Monastery on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, in in the sixties, and the ancient City of Magdala in the seventies. The results of these excavations were published in specialized books and articles.

His name will be especially tied to two sacred places : the Holy Sepulcher and Capharnaum, the city of Jesus. In Capharnaum Friar Corbo spent the last 23 years of his life together with his fellow Franciscan Fr. Stanislao Loffreda. Together they excavated the Village and the Synagogue. Traces of the Synagogue of the time of Jesus were found under the magnificent synagogue which is visible today. Most important, the house of Saint Peter was discovered where Jesus lived as a member of the family. That house became the first and most venerable "House Church" for local Christians of a Jewish stock. Quite recently, a memorial has been build upon the named house church for the use of pilgrims. This was a major achievement of Friar Corbo's work and perseverance.

Friar Corbo was so pleased every time that it was profiled for the Holy Land an agreement of peace. It is said that on November 19, 1977, for example, when the former Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat visited Jerusalem, it seemed to everyone a step of peace. The Franciscan from Avigliano was so happy that he told Father Loffreda, always present as his closest friend: "Stanislao, if peace arrives in the Holy Land we'll get drunk, the two of us, you have my word!".

There he has been put to rest, under the memorial near the venerated house, on December 7. Various authorities, both Christian and Jewish, were present at his funeral Mass concelebrated in the memorial by some eighty priests. Many people from Galilee and from Judea attended the service in a magnificent day of sunshine after a whole week of heavy rain.

His demise came shortly after that of the Servant of God, Friar Bellarmino Camillo Bagatti OFM., (1905 - 1990), one of the most famous was archaeologists of the twentieth century, former director of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF).


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