Cover page of "La Tessitura del Mondo" with the afterword written by Pope Francis Cover page of "La Tessitura del Mondo" with the afterword written by Pope Francis 

Pope: Storytelling is 'fabric' that connects everything and everyone

In the Afterword of “The weaving of the world,” Pope Francis highlights the importance of storytelling as the weaving of a fabric with unbreakable threads that links the past and present, everything and everyone. The new book is published on Thursday by the Vatican Publishing House and Salani Publications.

By Vatican News staff writer

Pope Francis has penned the Afterword to “The weaving of the world,” (La Tessitura del Mondo), a publication that gathers the reflections of about 44 writers, artists, theologians and journalists on the theme of storytelling as a way towards salvation.

The 240-paged book, edited by Andrea Monda, the Director of the Osservatore Romano, is published by the Vatican Publishing House (LEV) and Salani Publications.

Storytelling as fabric

Reflecting on the publication, the Pope recalls the words of American Author Donna Tartt, who noted that the stories we tell, re-tell, and pass on to one another are “tents under which to gather, banners to follow in battle, indestructible ropes to connect the living and the dead.”  The intertwining of these vast plots across centuries and cultures “binds us strongly to one another and to history, guiding us across generations.”

From this perspective, notes the Pope, storytelling becomes a “fabric” made of “unbreakable cords” that connect everything and everyone, and allows us to “open up to the future with feelings of trust and hope.”

Inspired by 2020 World Day of Communications message

Pope Francis adds that the “fabric” of storytelling was at the heart of his message for the 2020 World Day of Communications, which inspired the reflections gathered in the publication. In fact, the reflections were published in the pages of the Osservatore Romano from February – October 2020.

In writing the concluding section, the Holy Father hopes that his words will not be final, because as Frodo, the protagonist of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” says, “tales never end”, and also because aspects of the book deal with a sense of openness, circularity and dialogue.

A message shared

Concerning the “method” of the volume, Pope Francis notes that there is a message at the beginning of the volume that is launched, shared and offered to the attention of people that allow themselves to be challenged and to enrich the message with their contribution.

Subsequently, these contributions are read and become part of a new reflection that is relaunched - one richer than the previous thanks to the contributions. Finally, the reader of the book enters into the dialogue and continues in it in his or her daily life.

All these, the Pope underlines, demonstrate that in stories, what matters is the “telling” but perhaps even more so the “listening.” In this regard, the publication is “an account of a dialogue that does not end at the last page and, as a dialogue, has its heart in listening” – even silent listening. More so, a strong presence of silence is felt in the book… “word and silence, together.”

Weaving, mystery and compassion

Pope Francis goes on to highlight three recurring themes in the publication: the telling of stories as “weaving”; mystery, concealed within the hint of silence; and, compassion.

Weaving, the Pope notes, is an aspect on which many authors focus, including some which emphasize the role of women, others highlighting the “pliability” of the weaving of the stories, while yet others dwell on the “magmatic” consistency of the stories.

The theme of mystery, present from the very first text, is seen as “sense of limit but also as "magic" that intervenes in the moment of poetic inspiration” and also has to do with poetry. The sense of mystery also “opens to the transcendent, toward an unmistakably spiritual, religious dimension.”

The third aspect – compassion – is “in the life of the soul, the human counterpart of divine grace,” says the Pope, recalling the words of Marylinne Robinson. The Pope insists that compassion is one of the three characteristics of the style of God, including closeness and tenderness. This powerful force cannot be “reduced only to an inner, intimate aspect, because it also possesses an evidently public, social dimension” whereby the narrative is revealed as “a force of memory, guardian therefore of the past, but also, precisely because of this, a leaven of transformation for the future.”

On this theme, the Pope points to the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke who has compassion on the wounded man and offers him care and healing. In that story, compassion changes the lives of the two protagonists.

Political dimension

Pope Francis also describes the political dimension of the publication, recalling Alessandro Zacuri’s reflection of Jesus as a “storytelling Messiah”, unarmed but actually endowed with the powerful weapon of storytelling.

He also underlines the words of Collum McCann who sees storytelling as “one of the most powerful means we have for changing our world” and “our great democracy” that we all have access to, which transcends borders, shatters stereotypes and “gives us access to the full flowering of the human heart.”

In conclusion, the Pope highlights that the volume was written during the pandemic, in which there has emerged an urgency to return to the “oldest and most human activity” of storytelling.

This art of storytelling, the Pope insists, is building bridges that can “connect the living and the dead to guide us, across centuries and generations, to a future to be built and to be woven, together.”

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

26 May 2022, 09:00