On February 23-24, 2023, the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure (Seraphicum) in Rome hosted an international study conference entitled “The Cross during the First Hundred Years of the Franciscan Order: Texts, Images and Models.” The event took place in the Sisto V Hall of the Seraphicum.
The Dean of the Faculty, Professor Friar Raffaele DI MURO, along with the Vicar General, Friar Jan MACIEJOWSKI, greeted the participants on behalf of the Faculty and explained that Professor Alessandra BARTOLOMEI ROMAGNOLI and Professor Friar Massimo VEDOVA came up with the idea for this event. The two-day conference was aimed at taking the participants on a detailed journey, beginning with the ancient and medieval heritage that preceded St. Francis and continuing with the preaching about the cross that was characteristic of the Franciscan world and the Latin Church of the West from the Late Middle Ages onward..
A series of high quality presentations allowed the students and faculty to discover the continuity in the discontinuity of the discourse on the cross and the theology of the cross, as generated by St. Francis. They learned how the understanding of the cross, which evolved from the concept of a horrendous form of execution to a symbol of redemption and victory. This process began in early Christianity and was continued through the spiritual reinterpretation of the monastic experience, the artistic expressions of painted crosses, and the story of Friar Francis who, far from having a painful understanding of the cross, expressed a Trinitarian vision of it in his writings, in which the Son, the crucified Christ, is the way that leads back to the Father with the power of the Spirit. In short, Francis extraordinary experience of the stigmata, and the meaning that his descendants ascribed to it, created a path on which the journey continued through St. Bonaventure, St. Anthony, the Franciscan mystics, liturgical dramatization and artistic expression. All this led to a deeper understanding of the ‘self-emptying’ of the Son through His incarnation and passion, acts which went beyond the salvific dimension to express the very nature of God himself.
This important study day will be further enriched by the publication of the conference proceedings. In addition to thanking those who made the day possible, one must also mention the moderators and professors who shared their expertise and participated in a debate that is far from over. The contributors included Professor Luca BIANCHI, Dean of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the Antonianum University, Rome; Professor Emanuela PRINCIVALLI, La Sapienza University, Rome; Professor Pierluigi LICCIARDELLO, Alma Mater Studiorum University, Bologna, Italy; Professor Alessio MONCIATTI, University of Molise, Italy; Professor Stéphane OPPES, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Antonianum; Professor Daniele SOLVI, Luigi Vanvitelli University of Campania, Italy; Professor Adelaide RICCI, University of Pavia, Italy; Professor Gábor KLANICZAY, Central European University of Budapest, Hungary; Professor Friar Massimo VEDOVA, Seraphicum and Antonianum; Professor Friar Aleksander HOROWSKI, OFM Cap., Capuchin Historical Institute, Rome; His Eminence Cardinal Fortunato FREZZA; Professor Friar Luciano BERTAZZO, Theological Faculty of Triveneto, Italy; Professor Alessandra BARTOLOMEI ROMAGNOLI, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Professor Francesco SANTI, Alma Mater Studiorum University, Bologna, Italy; Professor Carla BINO, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy; Professor Friar Felice AUTIERI, Theological Institute of Assisi and Seraphicum; Professor Elvio LUNGHI, University for Foreigners, Perugia, Italy; Professor Patrick HENRIET, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris; and Professor Franco CARDINI, University of Florence, Italy.
Friar Roberto LIGGERI