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Brother Roberto of Eboli, member of the noble ebolitan family Novella, was a franciscan monk that live in the sixteenth century. He is remembered for his important work of evangelisation that led him to live many dangers and misadventures. He was captured in Sicily in a pirate raid, prisoner in Tripoli, head of the Knights of Order in Malta, in defines of the Island besieged by the Muslims and where still today he is remembered as a national hero, and finally at the court of Gonzga, before being judged by the court of the Holy Inquisition and imprisoned. He was released after twelve years of imprisonment thanks to the intercession of his protector Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga.



Roberto Novella of Eboli was born between 1510 and 1520. He wore a Franciscan robe from a very young age. He dedicated his time to studying and became a good theologian. One day as he was walking along the beach a pirate invasion, common in those years, took place. He was captured and taken to Tripoli where he was punished for practicing and preaching his faith. In prison he became well known for his positivity and the hope he gave all other prisoners. All together they raised money and that is how he was able to leave the prison after 12 years of imprisonment.

During his time in prison he had hear about an attack that the Turks were planning on Malta. Once he was freed from prison, instead of heading back to Eboli he went to Malta to warn them about the attack, which happened on the 22 may 1565, and was able to organise some groups of soldiers. The Ottoman army greatly outnumbered that of Malta. However Roberto Novella was able to keep spirits high with his encouraging speeches. After being hurt twice during battles he has a vision that the island would be liberated on the 8th of September, which turned out to be correct and he is to this day remembered as a saint for that.

Brother Roberto Novella finally returns to Eboli, but due to some accusation upon his return he is told to give up his vows. On April 29, 1578, through the intercession of the Duke William, he receives thanks from the new Pope Gregory XIII. At the end of 1580, the brother gets full freedom and, after twelve years in prison, returns to his Eboli, where he finds a tragic family situation: the father died, the mother old and poor, the poor and unmarried sister and brother Lucio unemployed. All he has left to do is to write to the Duke, asking him to help his family and to find a job with his brother. It is the last news of Father Roberto: it is assumed that, by now tired and weak after so many hardships, hard years of slavery and prison, the brother died in Eboli.

 

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