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Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Vatican City, 5 February 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, announced details of the exhibit "The Path of Peter" (Castel Sant'Angelo, 6 February1 May 2013) that will be opened at 6:00pm tomorrow by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. Also participating in the press conference were Don Alessio Geretti, curator of the exhibit, and Daniela Porro, superintendent of the Consortium of Roman Museums. The exhibit, one of the initiatives of the Year of Faith, is a collaborative effort between nine countries and will include pieces ranging from the 4th and 5th centuries all the way to the beginning of the 20th century.

"First of all, it's good to explain the 'why' of this exhibit," said the archbishop. "Faith isn't just the commitment of believers. It expresses humanity's need to look within in order to understand the desire for God that is inscribed on the heart of each person. This cultural moment we are living in is strongly characterized by contradictory movements ... On the one hand it seems that there is a general feeling of fatigue and indifference that even affects our faith. It makes it seem limited to a small group of persons and as if it no longer held any appeal to the new generations. On the other hand, there is the excessive enthusiasm for scientific progress and new lifestyles as if these were the solutions to today's serious problems. Not infrequently in this case, we come to the claim that it is good to limit faith's sphere to the private, denying its social or cultural effect. At the same time, however, it is easy to see that the desire to enjoy the beauty of nature and works of art is constantly increasing. … Today, fortunately, we are still looking for something that is more important and more profound, because the spirit is moved by the desire to know and to admire … seeking to contemplate a beauty that is not transient because it has created culture and extends through the centuries, always arousing wonder and marvel for the genius of the artist and for what they have known how to create, motivated by their faith and their interpretive abilities."

"It is precisely to reinforce this desire and to give voice to the nostalgia for God, often latent in many persons," the prelate continued, "that we have decided to organize this exhibit as a journey through the centuries to come to know one of the persons who has always stimulated the minds of artists to try to understand his mystery and give it voice. We wanted to narrate 'The Path of Peter' in art … Peter is the image of humanity that seeks and that finds and that, after having found, follows. Unfortunately he is also weak and commits betrayal but he still knows how to ask forgiveness. Moved by love, by a unique and sweeping experience, he leaves everything behind in order to proclaim the mystery of Christ's Resurrection to the world. It is a true journey of faith, without rest, that artists have captured … in many works that witness to its beauty."

"This exhibit is a path for growing in faith but it is also a challenge to recognize the necessity of believing as a response to the question of meaning that life poses. Looking upon the work of art, believers and non-believers have different reactions, but beauty expresses a call to one and all to listen to the message that can be perceived in the silence of contemplation. … This is one of the reasons why we thought that the exhibit shouldn't take place in a religious space but in an open space where all might have access without prejudices, moved only by the interest in art. True art, on the other hand, knows how to challenge us and it's good not to force one's hand with too many words so as not to run the risk of trivializing its message."


Vatican City, 5 February 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Pope and the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano met in one of the rooms adjoining the Paul VI Audience Hall before attending a concert offered to the Pope by the Italian Embassy to the Holy See in celebration of the 84th anniversary of the Lateran Accords.

The discussion, which lasted around 20 minutes, was particularly intense, given that it touched upon the approaching end of the president's seven-year term, which has been characterized by a great mutual esteem and by always cordial meetings on the part of both sides, as a statement from the Holy See Press Office reports.

In the conversation, the Pope expressed his attention on and participation in the important events that are awaiting the Italian people. They also spoke about major themes of the international situation, particularly the concern for peace in the most troubled areas of the world such as the Middle East and Africa..


Vatican City, 5 February 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, in the Paul VI Hall, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra, lead by Conductor Zubin Mehta, offered a concert to the Pope from the Italian Embassy to the Holy See on the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the Lateran Accords. The repertoire included "The Force of Destiny", by Giuseppe Verdi, and the "Symphony No. 3 in E flat major", also known as the "Eroica", by Ludwig van Beethoven.

At the end of the performance Benedict XVI addressed the audience briefly saying that the choice of "The Force of Destiny" was "a fitting tribute to the great Italian composer on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth" and that his works "know how to capture and treat the situations of life in music, above all the drama of the human soul, in such an immediate, incisive, and essential way that is rare to find in the musical panorama. The destiny he gives his characters is always tragic and the protagonists of the Symphony that we have just heard do not escape it. However, dealing with the theme of destiny, Verdi finds himself taking on the theme of religion directly; he confronts God, faith, the Church. And once again this composer’s spirit re-emerges: his restlessness, his religious quest. "The Force of Destiny" … gives shape to the drama of human existence, marked by a tragic destiny and by nostalgia for God, His mercy, and His love that gives light, meaning, and hope even in the midst of darkness. Faith gives us this perspective that is not illusory but real … This is the strength of the Christian, who is born of Christ's death and resurrection, from the supreme act of a God who has entered into human history not only in words but by becoming incarnate."

He added, "a few words on Beethoven's Third Symphony … which, as you know was dedicated to Napoleon, but the great German composer changed his mind after Bonaparte proclaimed himself emperor, changing the title to 'Composition Celebrating the Memory of a Great Man'. Beethoven's music expresses the idea of a heroic bearer of freedom and equality who has to choose between resignation or battle, between death or life, between surrender or victory. … I am not going to analyse the Symphony's four movements, but just mention the second, the celebrated 'Funeral March' … a stunning meditation on death … that invites us to reflect on what is beyond, on the infinite. In those years, Beethoven, in the Heiligenstadt testament of 1802 wrote, 'O Divine One, thou lookest into my inmost soul, thou knowest it, thou knowest that love of man and desire to do good live therein.' The search for meaning that opens the door to a solid hope for the future forms part of humanity's path."
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