By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis has donated a pectoral cross to the International Crucifix Museum in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone. The Museum was opened this year on 14 September, the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
The Pope’s gift will be presented by the Bishop of Caltagirone, Calogero Peri. After celebrating the Mass for First Friday, Bishop Peri will entrust the pectoral cross to Father Enzo Mangano, the founder of the Museum.
Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life
The idea for a museum dedicated to making the spirituality of the Crucifix better known came to Fr Mangano during Lent, as he reflected upon the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences. Father Mangano then appealed to friends and artists to donate works of art and other memorabilia focused on the Passion of Jesus.
Pope Francis responded to the call by means of a letter, signed by the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, in which the faithful and pilgrims to the ancient Sanctuary of the Passion are encouraged “to adhere ever more intensely to Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Meditating upon the Crucifix
The International Museum of the Crucifix of Caltagirone is dedicated to Bishop Peri, who was one of the first to donate a crucifix: a small reproduction of a San Damiano Cross found in the hospital room where the prelate was being treated for the coronavirus. During his illness, Bishop Peri said, the crucifix was a point of reference for his questions and prayers. When he was finally discharged, Peri asked to take the crucifix with him; he later decided to donate it to the Museum as a sign of gratitude to God for his recovery.
More than 150 works are already on display at the Museum, which is housed in the Sanctuary of Santissimo Crocifisso del Soccorso. The shrine is dedicated to a crucifix found in 1708 by a local farmer on the site of the Church of the Madonna del Succorso (Our Lady of Succour), which had been destroyed in an earthquake 15 years earlier.