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Before revealing perhaps one of the best kept secrets of the Catholic Church and of the various Franciscan Orders, it may be interesting to look for the reasons why these entities wanted to keep the encrypted message left by
Brother Elias as secret as possible. This message is a > Secret Code < proper, aptly masked with symbols and objects that he had arranged on and around the mortal remains of Saint Francis, before they were buried and hidden inside the tomb, which was found and opened only 600 years later.

Brother Elias was undoubtedly one of the most important figures of the 13th century. However, this emblematic and misunderstood character was literally cancelled out of all events of that historic period, through the destruction and systematic disposal of all his writings and  of the historic references about his person and life. This was probably due to the fact that he was an awkward and embarrassing presence for the Papacy.

In those days plagued by continuous clashes between the Pope and Emperor Frederick II, Elias’ close friendship with the latter, with whom he shared ideas and principles, led to his excommunication, progressive marginalization, and final burial into oblivion.

He was indeed strongly and bitterly ostracized by the Roman Curia, which could not forgive him for his support to the Emperor and to the latter’s "world view": namely, a brand new, super-political view of the world, totally innovative for those times, in which the Empire was conceived as a supernatural institution.

That Brother Elias was particularly gifted has been highlighted by Prospero Calzolari in a short essay published by Editrice SeaR, and no longer available on the market. This book has vanished, just like the character who had such an important impact on the historic events of the 12th century and whom Saint Francis called "Mother and Father of all his children".
There are too many coincidences that prove that Francis was not just the ‘poor man’ of Assisi,  that Brother Elias was not merely an excommunicate, and that Frederick II was not the ‘Anti-Christ of the Apocalypse’.

In his book, ‘Masonry, Franciscanism, Alchemy’, Prospero Calzolari rightly noted that the occult knot that binds these three figures is far from being definitively untied. This is also due to those who, over the course of history, and with undeniable preparedness, have done all in their power to make manuscripts and documents disappear, including important, consecrated and irreplaceable relics. A similar fate occurred to Celestine V and to the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio –

If he had only been an ordinary priest, Brother Elias would not have carried out such important and delicate tasks for Saint Francis, nor become his right-hand man. Nor would he have accepted such an ‘impossible mission’, by going to the court of the sultan Malik al-Kamil in Damascus, Syria, in 1217 during the 4th crusade, in order to lay the foundations for a peace agreement, and put an end to that infinite war.

In order to fully comprehend the motives behind the great work of Francis and Elias, which inevitably connected them to Frederick II, it would be necessary to reconstruct the story and the intricate series of events, buried by centuries of obscurantism and intentional historical camouflaging.

Saint Francis’ life has always been told in a hagiographic and anti-historical way, highlighting in particular the most spiritual and mystic expressions of his inner search, which came to an end in Verna. Here, according to legend, he received the stigmata -  the first Saint in history to experience this – on the rock where he had been tempted by the Devil.

However, Francis’ life is actually much more complex and comprehensive, as diversely described by several sources since 1228, when he was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.

In our opinion, this is quite a legitimate question to raise, since it is likely to shed some light on the reasons why Francis decided to go to Syria in such critical times, right in the middle of the battle to conquer Damietta.

Most probably, it was because Elias was pressing him to come to Syria, but above all because of his interest to learn and personally test the esoteric insights acquired by his brotherly friend during his 2-year stay in Palestine. This experience had also allowed Elias to get directly in contact with the “Oriental Masonry", which seemed to have maintained and preserved all the ancient and secret initiatory knowledge.
Indeed, since
Elias was an expert of both western and oriental sacred rituals, as well as an alchemist, he had had the opportunity to acquire a deep knowledge not only of Jewish and Christian esoteric sciences, but also of ancient Greek-Roman, Coptic, Berber, Indian and Sufic traditions, embedded in and developed by the Arab culture.

Calzovari’s book has particularly impressed me because, for the first time, it lifts the veil on the hagiographic tradition about Saint Francis. In particular, it has allowed me to get to know Brother Elias -  a character I knew little about – as well as a specific esoteric context which, over the years and as a free mason myself, I have learned about and experienced. Indeed, this book has told me about the “symbolic language” used and perfectly mastered by Brother Elias. In this short study, Calzovari also mentions a controversial ceremony organized to the smallest details by Brother Elias: during this ceremony, the body of Saint Francis, who had died four years earlier, was transferred from the Church of San Giorgio, where it had been temporarily buried, to the ground floor of the Basilica of Assisi. The Basilica had just been completed, under the direction of Elias himself, who was its architect, designer, and building master.

Saint Francis’ body was translated there on May 25 1230, with a strange ceremony. As soon as the funeral procession had reached the threshold of the newly built Basilica, and the holy relics were inside the church, Elias, with all his powers as Vicar-General of the Order, and in agreement with municipal authorities, ordered the municipal men-at-arms to close the doors, thus leaving outside the huge crowd, and, in particular, all the many notables and dignitaries who had come from all over Europe. Brother Elias locked the door from inside, and, with the help of some loyal brothers, had the body of the Saint carried to the "crypt", that had been specially prepared under the Church. Nobody knew about its existence, except for a few masters, who had directed the works, and some of their own workers, who were paid and sent home, as soon as the construction was completed.

According to contemporary chronicles, Elias had asked everyone to leave. Probably left alone in the light of the "strange position and symbolic value of the objects" found around the body, he worked hard and meticulously to hide Francis’ mortal remains in the rock. Francis’ body was returned to worshippers and exhibited to the public only six hundred years later, in 1818.

Around the holy relics he arranged several items that were found and retrieved
"only" in 1818, when the tomb was opened, following an unofficial authorization by Pope Pius VII. The deep symbolic meaning of these items has not been "understood". Actually, they had all been played off as offerings from worshippers, introduced after the burial through the small holes of the upper grating, covering the open travertine shrine.

Calzovari’s account has really struck my imagination, because it offers a different interpretation of Elias’ behavior, since it attached a symbolic ritual value that opens up a completely different view, in terms of space and time, of the spiritual path followed by Brother Francis, and that had brought him ever closer to the world of The Invisible and the Imperceptible.

And yet, his account sounded incomplete.  He was just mentioning the event and focusing exclusively on the
symbolic meaning of the white stone with a red stripe. This is also what I have illustrated in the chapter that deals with this polygonal stone in white marble from Subiaco.

The cornerstone that Elias had secretly placed > under Francis’ head < means that "he had completed his initiatory path" by following a route that had brought him to rest his head on the "occultum lapidem" – namely the cornerstone - "on the last stone", which is actually > the first one < , according to brother Elias, who saw "the philosopher’s stone" in him, and considered him as a new Jesus and World Axis. With his advent, he had completed the Master Work, and had opened the world to the new "Age of the Spirit", as predicted by Joachim of Flora, who, following Jewish mysticism, was using "symbols" to represent the "Truth".

said: "Show me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the cornerstone".

By the way, in people’s imagination as well as in the paintings praising his legendary actions,
Francis had been imagined and represented as the stereotype of the apostle > Peter < a re-founder of the Church of the origins, since he had tried to reform it from its very foundations.

Benozzo Gozzoli is one of the painters best able to express this symbolic image. He portrayed Francis together with Elias and all his closest companions when they met Pope Honorius III to present Francis’ "Regula" and get it approved by the Pope. This painting can be seen in the major chapel of the Franciscan church in Montefalco, decorated by Benozzo Gozzoli between 1450 and 1452, with a cycle of frescoes portraying the most important episodes in Saint Francis’ life.

Two episodes are represented in one of the pictures: The Dream of Innocent III and the Approval of the Rule. The first episode shows Pope Innocent III who has a vision of the Lateran Basilica falling down while poor Francis is trying to hold it up. This ‘premonition’ is the consequence of the story told on the right, namely the beautiful scene where, in 1223, Pope Honorius III - successor of Innocent III - approved the Rule of Franciscan Friars, with the papal bull Solet annuere. Historic records are often confused, since they attribute such approval  to Innocent III, who actually never officially approved the Rule, but only consented to its ‘testing’.

Based on this cue, I decided to extend my investigations since, as a Free Mason, I realized that the message left by Brother Elias was way more complex and elaborated, and, above all, enigmatic and symbolic.
Hence, I began to believe that
Elias’ intention was to send an > encrypted message < well beyond his own time and space, by intentionally leaving behind some cues, like those that brought renown to Dan Brown, the author of the famous best selling novel “Da Vinci’s Code”.  Actually, inspired by Brown, I have entitled the enigmatic message of this great and unrecognized Adept:


The meaning of the items selected by Brother Elias refers to our physical world: the stone, the piece of metal, the silver coins, the stem of an ear of wheat, Francis the man, his inner female side, represented as a pagan goddess. Each of these symbols has a visible layer. Whereas, their symbolic meaning is the invisible, unknown part, the object of discovery and mystery.
I was thus stimulated to investigate into the events narrated by
Calzovari more closely, events that I had never heard about before. Above all, I wanted to understand the true reasons why Brother Elias had selected and meticulously arranged certain objects around and above the corpse of St. Francis.

Finally, during my search, I found a publication from 1820 with records and direct reports of people who had attended the opening of the sarcophagus. The above picture of the tomb was taken from this book. Said reports on the main phases of the opening of the tomb also describe the exact position in the grave of all the items as they were discovered. And yet, the book seemed to miss some key points which, instead, I found in another book by Isidoro Gatti  “La tomba di San Francesco nei secoli (Saint Francis’ Tomb over the centuries) published by Casa Editrice Francescana of Assisi. This book has helped me a lot in my research, since it has provided me with some final and unequivocal information.

It is worth carefully reading the reports of the recognition, accurately quoted by Gatti in his book (pages 264-267). I used these highly valuable clues to investigate the symbolic codes chosen by Brother Elias when he arranged each piece of this highly complex ”jigsaw puzzle”. However, it is very difficult to put it together fully, due to some missing pieces that are key in order to reconstruct the true image of Francis that Brother Elias intended to leave to posterity and which has been intentionally misunderstood and forged.  He was probably fully aware that such image would be twisted and partially disguised. This was actually what happened, mostly because of Brother Bonaventura.

Isidoro Gatti (pages 264-267)

1) The first actual recognition of the sarcophagus was performed during the Third Session of the Process (held on January 28, 1819), of which Gatti (op. cit. page 264) quotes the full text of the minutes drawn up by the Papal delegates.

By torchlight it was possible to see the entire contents of the sarcophagus and listen to the description given by the experts - physicians and surgeons -: Romagnoli, Rossi, Battaglia, and Paoli.

Inside the sarcophagus there was “ a skeleton with, on its right side and near the head, a stone with a vaguely polygonal shape, and on its left side - between the hip and the shoulder - three round shaped metal segments as big as coins of the so called  ‘third size’."

At the very end of the coffin, after the feet, there is:
> a ring that seems to be made of metal

Near said ring there seems to be:
> a metal fragment covered by a green patina

Near said fragment:
> a bright pin

Finally, under the foot bones and close to the bottom of the urn:
> 28 beads are disorderly arranged

Finally, after the necessary inspections of the urn, the above specified archeology experts have confirmed that there are no remains of inscriptions, or sculptures” (Processo Romano f.24; Processo Assisano f.10)”(see Gatti op. cit., page264-265, note 129.)

2) At the end of the Third Session of the Process, the various items were taken out of the sarcophagus:

What had initially looked like a a bright pin was found to be a > piece of straw < (Processo Romano f.34; Processo Assisano f.13)”

All these items were locked inside a wooden case, which was sealed and handed over to Monsignor Lucchesi, Bishop of Foligno, in charge of keeping it. This marked the end of the Third Session (page 265, note 135).

3) The Fourth Session of the Process (held on January 29, 1819) was very important:

“The archeology experts Vermiglioli and Frondini were invited by the Promotore Fiscale (e.g. a sort of Public Prosecutor of the Church) and by the Bishop to carry out an archeological recognition on the items that had been extracted from the sarcophagus on the previous evening. This was their report:
The stone. It was confirmed to be of the same quality of the rock on which the Basilica is built. It carried no initials, nor inscriptions. With a polygonal shape, it is 11once” high (e.g. cm 20.46), with a maximum width of 9 ½once” (e.g. cm 17.67). The experts made no assumptions on the "reason" why that stone was found near the skull.

The three (later found to be eleven) coins. Since these coins were covered with a thick green layer, it was not possible to identify the mint or read their inscriptions, although they had been previously dipped in vinegar. Therefore, a more careful survey to get a final response on this point was postponed until a later date. The coins seemed to be made of silver, with much alloy, to belong to some urban Italian mint, and to have been minted between the 11th and the 15th century, hence in Christian times. It is reasonable to believe - said the experts - that they were found in the grave as devout and spontaneous offerings by worshippers ”.

Three coins were found in the sarcophagus on January 28, and eight more – identical to the previous three coins– were found on January 29.

Note 140 page 267: The findings of the expert survey carried out on the coins and the ring in Rome on February 2, 1820 were published by FEA > Reasoned description (pages 42-43) as well as by GUADAGNI > Sententiae dictae Additamentum (pages 7-11).

>A  twelfth coin

was found amid Saint Francis’ bone fragments on November 15, 1820

3) The ring. It was confirmed to be a silver ring, set with a red sardonyx carrying the effigy of the Greek goddess Pallas Nicephora (Minerva). According to the opinion of the experts Fea and Visconti, who examined it in February 1820, it was of ancient Roman workmanship, most likely dating back to the 2nd century.

The carving was assumed to date back to 2nd century for - in spite of the august figure, the beautifully draped folds, and its decent and decorous movement - it lacked the soft touch typical of 1st century craftsmen’s works and failed to show the accurate drawing and deep-rooted art of that period, which, with some master touches, was able to perfectly mimic nature in all its expressions.
The setting, judging from its imperfect mount and the particularly convex gipsy setting of the Corniola stone, most probably dates back to the end of the 12th century (FEA Op. cit, page 43; GUADAGNI, op cit, Additamentum, pages 7-8).

4) The piece of straw.
the stem of an ear of wheat was most probably thrown away as soon as it was clear that it was not a "precious object" as it had initially appeared, when it had looked like a diamond studded pin".

5) The metal fragment. It was 1 and a half  “oncia” (e.g. cm 2.79) long and 1 “oncia” (cm 1.86) wide and it was as big as a coin.
When broken in two, it was found to be made of oxidized iron: "the reason why it is in the Sarcophagus is unknown "

6) The wreath beads. They were < 29 >: twelve amber and seventeen black wooden beads, similar to ebony < .

The wooden beads, as stated by the archeology experts: “ have small external holes running along their full circumference, as if there had been some small decorative inlays. We do not exactly know which was the use of these beads, for no clues nor other circumstances have been found that could explain it”.

This is the exact report of the recognition of the items found in the grave. My own investigations - divided into different chapters that I invite you to read - have been based on this evidence.
Anyone of you may further expand upon or challenge my conclusions. I do hope, however, that more in-depth and by now urgent investigations, which cannot be put off any more, will be stimulated.  In particular, the actual masterminds of any likely alteration and concealment of
>evidence < should at long last take responsibility for their actions, and take part in this research with the same obstinacy they have shown for centuries in drawing a "veil" of silence on this story and preventing the truth from leaking out.

It is time we raised the curtain on the experiences of Brother Elias and Brother Francis, when they were in Egypt and in the Holy Land, as well as on their encounter with Muslim Brotherhoods and in particular with esoteric Sufic Groups, that taught them ancient techniques on how to "get close to God”. As soon as Francis learned these techniques, he most probably started to practice them when he decided to establish his hermitage at La Verna together with 12 other brothers, > 12 < just like King Arthur’s knights. We believe that this is what Brother Elias wanted posterity to know, when he left a precise and unequivocal > encrypted message < through a whole set of symbols he had placed on and around the body of Saint Francis.
I’m more convinced than ever that the
truth cannot be concealed and distorted any longer. Above all, the items that would disclose the real nature of this great, extraordinary Sufi Master must be retrieved.

Giovanni Salvati

Heart to Heart

A man cannot change the world
but he can spread a  message
that can change the world