"Nature is full of infinite causes."
Leonardo da Vinci
I would like to address a few words inspired by a young and old sentiment to our dearest Mother Umbria and all the brothers and sisters of our beloved land. That time that St. Augustine considered eternally present is your time. It’s our time.
Our genius is renowned and highly regarded worldwide. Our excellence in the arts and industries, as well as in craftsmanship, is widely acknowledged, including the textile art, fashion, blacksmithing, and masonry, just to mention a few. Our attitude at work is one of the most expressive forms of human industriousness. That’s when we forget about time and space, concentrated with every fibre of our body and every sentiment of our spirit on understanding and creating products that are bound be true works of art.
Please, together with me, don’t ever abandon this dimension of craftsmanship, because this is how we express our art. And, as artists, we are in some part divine. Craftsmanship does not belong to the past, it is instead a permanent form of humanity. We need contemporary craftsmen that know how to combine tradition and the most up-to-date technology. This is the key to a bright future, both Umbrian and Italian. May we never lose our Franciscan spirituality, a nonconformist spirituality which has made us famous in the world, and with which the poor Saint from Assisi persuaded Medieval popes even when he criticised their lifestyles. And may we always maintain alive the industrious spirituality of Saint Benedict, with which we built our cities, our heritage and our history.
About our pride, similar only to that of Tuscans, the journalist and writer Curzio Malaparte talked vividly, saying that we seem to stand even when we pray on our knees, and we treat God with respect but on a first name basis, chin up, looking straight into his eyes. The beauty of our Umbrian countryside is in our eyes and our heart. That’s why, as faithful guardians, we have worked and moulded it with kindness according to Nature, transforming it into an immense garden where woodlands, meadows, and cultivated fields express, with their shape and expansion, the entire humanity. We know how to preserve this beauty, still today. The universal celebration of our landscape, as beautiful as that depicted in the paintings of 14th-century and Renaissance artists, is the living proof. Like brave sailors, we must continue with our ancient wisdom to ensure tradition without neglecting the needs of the present and the aspirations of the future.
The pride that made us famous has earned the admiration of the whole world during the recent earthquake that hit several treasures in Umbria, medieval hamlets with a centuries old story. And it did not spare Norcia, the North Star of Benedictine spirituality, the holy city that shares martyrdom with Jericho, Aleppo, and Matera, and spiritual primacy with Jerusalem. The earthquake hit the cathedral and the monastery, which some good-hearted religious Benedictine monks had restored, only few years ago, to bring back spirituality to the ancient places where it had been born. Tears have soon given way to courage, to confidence in the institutions and to the wish to reconstruct. And today, your wonderful cities are rising again, not dismayed but stronger than ever because of that sorrow. Just like the prophet Baruch did not want to leave Jerusalem destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and decided to stay and bear witness to his love for his land, you are staying and reconstructing, thus showing the world your trust for a bright and shiny future.