A tour that takes leave from the intuition of Brother Francis to the scientific research of the Franciscans offers a look at nature as it has inspired generations right up to his Holiness Pope Francis’ for his encyclical Laudato si’

 (Rome, December 30TH  2023)  800 years after its composition by Saint Francis of Assisi, the Canticle of the Creatures – often also called the Canticle of Brother Sun – itself the inspiration for the Encyclical Laudato si’ and the Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum of Pope Francis, will be at the center of the Exhibition Laudato sie: nature and science. The cultural legacy of Brother Francis in the Library of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, which will open on October 2nd in Rome at Palazzo Braschi. In addition to the Canticle of Brother Sun, which will have the central role, the exhibition will display a selection of 93 works including manuscripts and books from the ancient collection of the municipal library of Assisi, preserved in the Sacred Convent.

The exhibitions are being produced by the St. Francis Day Foundation, Inc., established under the auspices of the Holy Father, aimed at disseminating the teachings of the Saint of Assisi, his words and founding values, a lasting source of inspiration for humanity; The Foundation is joined in the collaboration by Sacred Convent of Assisi and the Italian Academy Foundation, Inc. and with the patronage of the Municipality of Assisi and the Department of Culture of the City of Rome
The exhibition offers the visitor a multidisciplinary journey inspired by the Canticle which, thanks to the nine sections that compose it, will be able to understand the different dimensions of Creation according to the special “Franciscan angle”. After the first section, the nucleus and beating heart of the entire exhibition centered on the Canticle and on the direct experience of Saint Francis in his original approach towards nature, we will move on to the second where the philosophical-theological synthesis of the first Franciscan thinkers is shown, while the third allows us to understand what was the desire that moved some scholars of the Order to seek a universal model of knowledge, a sort of general cataloging of reality. From the fourth section onwards the gaze narrows, focusing on the way in which the individual sciences – astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, medicine – have observed Creation over the centuries and on how some Franciscans have favored this gaze. Finally, the last section is summary – come all your creatures: plants, animals and men – in which, ideally reconnecting to the first section, one can have an “integral” vision of Creation.
The general director of the Exhibition, Fra Carlo Bottero OFM director of the Library of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, summarizes the underlying inspiration thus: “The starting point is what Francis wonderfully expresses about nature in the Canticle: he in fact prays to the Lord praising him in his works, calling brother and sister that which participates in creaturely dignity. From here arises the conviction that knowing the cosmos in all its rational beauty, perceiving the variety of colors, the multiplicity of forms and the dizzying succession of movements was not an exercise in “intellectual pride”, but the beginning of a mystical and rational return to God. The exhibition amply illustrates, in a multidisciplinary perspective, the assiduity of many followers of the Saint of Assisi not only in philosophical-theological speculation around the meaning of the created world, but above all in the concrete practice of the various sciences, with particular reference to astronomy, mathematics, physics, alchemy and chemistry, medicine.
The President of the St. Francis Day Foundation, international business leader Steve Menzies, explains the reasons that led the Foundation to want to organize such an important exhibition: “we draw our motivation directly from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who engaged our Foundation to undertake the exhibit and, with it, the promotion of the values it presents and, in that same vein, the importance of the work of the Franciscans, their brilliant inquiries and results. We have provided and watched carefully over the restoration of 34 manuscripts performed with utmost care and creativity by the laboratory in Praglia under the expert care of Alberto Benato. We believe, as a Foundation, in the words and spirit of the Encyclical and will seek every means to realize its acceptance, starting with this initiative”.
Father Marco Moroni, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, summarizes the meaning of nature in the thought of Saint Francis thus: “The Canticle of Brother Sun of Saint Francis holds a fragrant essence, a condensation of distilled and precious perfume, which expresses together – with rare harmony – beauty and faith, respect and contemplation, strength and sweetness, God, humanity and the world.Modern culture has often chosen among its foundations the affirmation of man (with respect to God, with respect to creation, with respect to women, with respect to other human beings…). Francis, on the other hand, is a master in discovering that everyone’s greatness lies in being a unique and irreplaceable part of this great orchestra that is the world, the common home as Pope Francis taught us to say.Celebrating the 800 years of the Canticle of Brother Sun and the knowledge that has emanated from it over the centuries is therefore ferment for cultural, scientific and technological developments that not only respect the integrity of creation and human life but which promote them in a wise and effective”.
The scientific committee of the exhibition is composed of prof. Father Luciano Bertazzo OFMConv, of the Theological Faculty of the Triveneto, director of the Antonian Studies Center of Padua; by the prof. fra Carlo Bottero OFMConv, of the Theological Institute of Assisi, director of the Library of the Sacred Convent of Assisi; by the prof. Stefano Brufani, of the University of Perugia, president of the International Society of Franciscan Studies of Assisi; by the prof. Paolo Capitanucci, of the Theological Institute of Assisi; by Commendatore Comm. Stefano Acunto – Berardini, Chairman of the Italian Academy Foundation, Inc. which is a contributing organization that also provides administration of the exhibits and the activities of the Foundation.