St. Francis Manuscripts Leaving Italy After 700 Years

Medieval artifacts are bound for US
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2014 12:21 PM CST
13th-Century St. Francis Manuscripts Headed to US
A replica of a volume containing manuscripts and documents related to St. Francis of Assisi is displayed during a press conference in Rome on Nov. 6, 2014.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

When Francis of Assisi went blind after living a life of poverty, he penned his inspiring "Canticle of the Sun," Catholic Online notes. Now the manuscript that contains that writing, as well as 12 other medieval manuscripts, are heading to the US after a 700-year stay in Italy, the New York Times reports. The artifacts' first stop: the UN, where they'll be on exhibit from Nov. 17-28; they'll then be displayed at Brooklyn Borough Hall through mid-January. "This text may be the foundation of the Italian language, the first text ever known in vernacular," the Rev. Pierangelo Massetti, the monk who led the manuscripts' restoration, tells the Times. The restoration was an arduous task, with at least five others joining Massetti in using a soft paint brush to clean the manuscripts one page at a time

Challenges included reconstructing missing parts like the spines, figuring out how to revitalize the faded ink, and fixing the original covers (at least one was made of wood covered in goat leather).Pope Francis chose his name from the patron saint of the poor, and while restorers admit the saint's signature is nowhere to be found in the ancient documents (they believe he dictated most of his writings), they contend his spirit is infused throughout them. While other institutions as far away as Russia and Argentina are eagerly vying to be the next to host the manuscripts, Italian friars at the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi want them all back after January. (The Vatican announced this year it's digitizing 82,000 of its own manuscripts.)

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