ASSISI — The field where St. Francis preached to a flock of birds will become an outdoor sanctuary.
A press conference held June 26 announced the design of the project, introduced the artist and launched a campaign to raise 120,000 euros.
The miraculous preaching took place circa 1220 in Piandarca, near the community of Cannara, where Francis had just been preaching to the people at a castle. In fact, Cannara was where he decided to start the Third Order now known as the Secular Franciscan Order.
So that day of miraculous preaching is associated with the birth of the OFS, and has been dear to local Secular Franciscans ever since.
The press conference was conducted at the Sacred Convent of Assisi by the Cannara OFS Fraternity, the Cannara municipality, the Assisi diocese and the Franciscan friars.
Moderator Francesca Romana Elisei of Italian Television Radio opened the proceedings by saying: “The Piandarca Project consists in making true a dream for many; that is, creating an outdoor sanctuary in the memorable place where St. Francis preached to the birds.”
The press conference introduced the artist who won an international contest to design an outdoor shrine and unveiled models of his artistic vision for a stone altar and a bronze statue of Francis preaching to birds.
The artist is Antonio De Paoli, from Pavia (Italy). The contest was sponsored by the Committee for the Defense and Enhancement of Piandarca, created in 2010 to officially preserve the landscape heritage that had been quietly honored for centuries. An ad hoc commission coordinated by the Academy of Fine Arts of Perugia selected the winner from among 60 artists.
The moderator noted:
“The Preaching area has already been equipped with a large TAU — remember that Pope Francis on a recent visit to Assisi stopped with his helicopter over Piandarca to admire the TAU — and some native trees. The TAU is also visible at night with lighting that enhances its splendor “.
Artist De Paoli spoke of his vision:
“I imagined a slender figure with his arms stretched upwards that on tiptoe seems to levitate from the ground and accompany the flight of two larks. The intent is to represent the moment of the Saint’s life in complete ecstasy towards Creation and God, where even the smallest creatures become a means of communicating with the Absolute and symbolically spreading the Gospel message in the world.”
To carry out the project, a fundraising campaign aims to raise 120,000 euros. To make a donation, go to the website www.francescoapiandarca.it.
Other participants at the press conference were:
- Assisi Bishop Domenico Sorrentino.
- Fabrizio Gareggia, mayor of Cannara.
- Ottaviano Turrioni, OFS, scholar of Piandarca and minister of the OFS Fraternity of Cannara.
- Fr. Francesco Fongo, parish priest of Cannara.
- Fr. Antonello Fanelli, OFM Conv, delegate of the Custos of the Sacred Convent.
- Paola Fuciletti, vice minister of OFS Regional Council.
- Fr. Felice Autieri, OFM Conv, delegated to represent the OFS National Council.
- Attilio Galimberti OFS, CIOFS Presidency councilor representing OFS Minister General Tibor Kauser.
- Florian Castiglione, Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Umbria.
PHOTO AT TOP: Piandarca field, with TAU lit up at night. Photos provided by Ottaviano Turrioni, OFS.