Montalbano creates spiritual oasis

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Richard Montalbano began collecting religious artifacts more than 40 years ago, enshrining them in a small chapel he built in his family’s furniture-making factory in Bellwood.

Over the years, his collection grew to more than 360 statues and 375 relics, and when he closed his factory in 2000, a special chapel was built to house them in the Visitation Parish Convent at 799 S. York Road in Elmhurst.

Open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Sunday, the Crypt of the Saints also contains a library of more than 700 books, as well as its newest acquisition: a replica of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem made of thousands of pieces of olive wood from the Holy Land.

Admission is free, as are a wide range of holy cards and an absolutely remarkable book put together by Montalbano that contains the names of hundreds of saints and their patronages.

You can arrange for a group tour by calling Montalbano at 708-774-1946. He can often be found at the crypt from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.

A video about Montalbano and the crypt can be viewed at

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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