Interview with IAF Chairman Steve Acunto at the Frate Francesco Opening, by La Voce di New York. The IAF sponsored event Frate Francesco: Traces Words and Images opened Monday at the United Nations in New York, when the medieval manuscripts that document the work and life of St. Francis of Assisi arrived in the United States for the first time in history. The opening of the exhibition began by introducing the American audience to concepts of Franciscan thought. The Mayor of Assisi, Claudio Ricci, was present to introduce with his speech the theme that proved to be recurring among the speakers’ words: St. Francis’s message is as pertinent as ever.
Archbishop Bernard Auza, The Vatican Apostolic Nuncio to the UN, also stressed Franciscan philosophy during his speech, explaining pillars of the order such as poverty, peace, and environmental protection. Statements like these reaffirmed how suitable the exhibition environment is for the precious documents: the UN continues missions everyday that coincide with the goals of St. Francis 800 years ago. Marina Sereni, Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, also took the floor. She thanked the organizers of the exhibition, especially important to her because she is a fellow native of St. Francis’s homeland- Umbria. Sereni also brought up the Saint’s devotion to actively bridging cultures and faiths, specifically between Christians and Muslims, which was exemplified in the Saint’s trip to the Sultanate of Egypt in 1219.
The event also served as an appropriate opportunity for the formal announcement of Pope Francis’s first visit to the US, slated for September of 2015. Next fall, the Pope will attend the largest gathering of Catholics in the world: Philadelphia’s World Meeting of Families 2015. Archbishop Auza said that the Pope will continue to New York to visit the UN after attending the conference in Philadelphia. The date of his visit would coincide with the opening of the General Assembly, during which hundreds of world leaders and representatives would be present.
Steve Acunto, president of the Italian Academy Foundation, along with Flavia de Sanctis, president of the Associazione Culturale Antiqua, were both on hand to explain the key components and goals of the exhibition, as well as its staging, which will remain on display until November 28th, at which point it can be seen from Brooklyn Borough Hall until January 14th. Read Mr. Acunto’s Letter accompanying the Frate Francesco catalog. The exhibition will be celebrated again with an IAF-sponsored concert at Merkin Concert Hall on November 27, 2014. For more information, visit FrateFrancescoNYC.com