A view of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi A view of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi  (Jozef Bartkovjak)

Assisi: 'Courtyard of Francis' to promote fraternity and care

September will see the ninth edition of "the Courtyard of Francis" in Assisi, where people from all walks of life join together to promote fraternity, and the culture of care that comes with it.

By Francesca Merlo and Adriana Masotti

This coming September will host the ninth edition of the cultural event "il Cortile di Francesco" (the Courtyard of Francis). This year, the event will be centred on the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Franciscan Rule.

Fr Giulio Cesareo, a Franciscan Friar from the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Assisi, where the event takes place, spoke to Vatican News' Sebastian Sanson Ferrari, and described the aim of the meeting as being to clear the topic of fraternity from the sacristies and see how it is a way of creating culture.

The history of the "Courtyard"

Born as a Franciscan version of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", which was promoted by the then-Pontifical Council for Culture as an opportunity for dialogue between believers and non-believers, the "Courtyard of Francis" has, over the years, become more and more a space to welcome intellectuals, experts and artists, Church representatives and entrepreneurs, people of science and journalists.

For its ninth edition, the event will be held from 14 to 16 September in Assisi and will be entitled "Being in Rule", fitting in fully with the eighth centenary of the approval of the Rule of St Francis, preserved in the Basilica of the same name, by Pope Honorius III.

In a communiqué released by the press office of the Sacro Convento, it was explained that the theme "offers an opportunity to reflect on the rules for the good and beautiful life that we all yearn for on an individual and social level, they are the conditio sine qua non of the authentic development of sociality from the point of view of the common good, peace and solidarity."

Numerous guests at the "Courtyard of Francis"

There will be many insights offered by the topic from a political, scientific and religious, as well as aesthetic and philosophical, psychological and educational, ecological and economic point of view that will be addressed in Assisi by the personalities who will be present including the historian and Franciscanism expert Maria Pia Alberzoni, the director of Civiltà Cattolica Antonio Spadaro, the economist Stefano Zamagni, the journalist Paolo Borrometi, Professor Maria Falcone, and the biologist Stefano Mancuso.

In addition to the traditional meetings, conferences and round tables, guided tours of the Basilica, the library and the historical archives of the Sacro Convento, themed activities for children, to whom the "Children's Courtyard" is dedicated, and then evening shows are scheduled in the "Courtyard of Francis".

Fr Cesareo describes the theme of fraternity, which the meeting is centred on, as "not just a personal attitude but a way to see the world, ourselves and others."

Considering the vast variety of people who will be attending the event, Fr Cesareo notes that "everybody has something to give to the others", and fraternity reflects this, being "the culture of care and cultural enrichment for a world in which nobody is excluded."

Speaking of the anniversary this year, Fr Cesareo explains that 800 years ago, Saint Francis received the  the approval of his rule by Pope Honorius III. The fist words of this rule are: the life and the rule of the friars is the gospel.

"Francis understands the gospel as a rule," notes Fr Cesareo, explaining that this is where the challenge lies for the Franciscans as "usually, when we think of rules, we think of something that is an obstacle to our individual freedom, whereas Francis understands the Gospel as a rule."

This, concludes Fr Cesareo, is "a chance for us to think about rules as an opportunity to give a direction to our freedom in order to build a better life and better relationships."

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11 July 2023, 16:28