FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE, 1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, SWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, & GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || || HIRAM POWERS || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || FLORIN WEBSITE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO, ENGLISH || VITA
New: Dante vivo || White Silence

This Essay,© Revd Dr James Lawson. Per la versione in italiano.



GIORGIO LA PIRA'S FLORENCE


REVD. DR JAMES LAWSON

giorgiolapira


s John Henry Newman wrote; 'The Church is ever ailing, and lingers on in weakness, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in her body - The cause of Christ is ever in its last agony, as though it were but a question of time whether it fails finally this day or another. The Saints are ever all but failing from the earth, and Christ all but coming; and thus the day of judgement is literally ever at hand - '

Christians know how this story ends. In the Providence of God all our lives are like streams flowing into to each other and on into the great river of universal history. And we know the destination of this river. In all its flows and counter-flows it moves forward irreversibly under the impetus of the supernatural force of grace towards its mouth, towards the mouth of the peace and unity and life. This is the vision of the prophet Isaiah. All the nations will flow towards the mountain of the Lord's house, towards Jerusalem, whose name means 'city of peace.' God will teach them His ways and they will walk in His paths - and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Beyond all our personal anxieties, the river of history is flowing towards a fraternal and universal peace. It is flowing towards the unity of all the different Christian denominations, and of all the children of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is flowing towards the 'prophetic utopia' of Isaiah. And so, even our age of anxiety, of nuclear war and 'the clash of civilisations,' can be seen in relation to an immense movement of hope that descends from God. This hope makes war impossible; peace and unity and justice among all the peoples of the world inevitable; the journey to new frontiers, despite everything, invincible and irreversible. The utopia of Isaiah is the authentic realism of history. O house of Jacob, he says, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.

If Christians are called together with the other children of Abraham to hope against hope in this 'prophetic utopia', we are also given a mandate to change the world. Those who hear the Word can live as prophets. We can raise the light of God over the world, even in our technological, atomic and apocalyptic age. In the 1950s someone who knew he had received this mandate was elected mayor of the city of Florence. His name was Giorgio La Pira. He lived the motto of Savonarola, placed on the facade of the municipality, the Palazzo della Signoria, who had believed that Renaissance Florence could become the New Jerusalem: 'JESVS CRISTVS REX FLORENTINI POPVLI SENATVS POPVLUSQUE DECRETO ELECTVS', 'Christ, the King of the Florentine People, Elected by Decree of the Senate and People'. (The Medici quickly changed it back to 'REX REGNVM ET DOMINVS DOMINANTIVM.') La Pira scandalised the powerful by consistently taking the side of the poor of the city despite the claims of 'market forces.' It was not uncommon to see him in public barefoot, having given away his shoes and most of his salary. Our 'clone towns' today are increasingly dominated by roads and identical superstores. By contrast, after the damage it had suffered in the war La Pira made sure that Florence was rebuilt as a human city on a human scale. He believed that the focus of rebuilding should be self-sufficient neighbourhoods centred round local shops, public gardens, markets, churches, schools and tree-lined streets. He tried to sustain the possibility of a;

restful and lovely life among the citizens - a loyal community - [and] cordial home

the life that Cacciguida, Dante's ancestor in his Paradiso, remembers on earth in Florence.  Every year La Pira organized conferences to which he invited representatives from all over the world, from North and South, Washington and Paris, Hanoi and Algiers, Tel Aviv and Arab East Jerusalem. He said to them, 'We would like all the treasures of history, of grace, of beauty and of intelligence that Providence has accumulated in Florence to constitute a great message of peace addressed to all the peoples of the earth: a message that calls them all, almost irresistibly, and despite every form of resistance and every opposition spes contra spem to begin a new history of a thousand years of civilisation and peace. A civilisation and peace destined to refract fully onto the earth the loving light of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men.' Giorgio La Pira’s conferences were the real thing, real attempts to break down walls and build bridges between the secular, capitalist West and Islam. He saw Florence as a bridge; as a city whose culture of spiritual humanism might help its citizens to resist the enchantments of Mammon. He saw Florence as a New Jerusalem, a holy city, like Mecca, Medina, Qom and Jerusalem itself in the Muslim world.  His life reveals the meaning of a mission that fulfils the potential of our baptism: a mission to bring heaven here on earth, to bring light into the darkness; to bring grace to bear upon nature; to bring the city of God to the city of man, to build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.

Providence has accumulated treasures of history, of grace, of beauty and intelligence in Cambridge as well as Florence. Even today still surrounds our ideal of education with a sacred radiance. And so we too have received a message of peace. And we too are commissioned, like Giorgio La  Pira, to be the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. This is our vocation, this is who we are called to be. We can live out this vocation in all the decisions and disciplines of the everyday. We can, 'make gentle the life of this world.' We can actively participate in the flow of history towards the 'prophetic utopia' of Isaiah. We, too, can build Jerusalem in all the cities in which we live, even among the dark, satanic mills.

There will be times of darkness for each of us in our pilgrimage through these chaotic cities of disorder and disharmony, but:

It is during the night that it is beautiful to believe in the light
we must force the dawn to be born, believing in it.
For we are the Body of Christ, the Body of He Who was transfigured, and Whose face shone like the sun. And if we believe and pray and persevere we know that we shall praise God together again. We shall praise God with all the saints who have prayed in this place before us. We shall praise God in that City in whose light the nations shall walk, that City whose light is the glory of God.




Voice Recording of Augustine, Confessions XI
Recording of Ambrosian Chant,
'Deus Creator Omnium', heard by Augustine in Milan
Voice Recording of Augustine, Boethius, Dionysius, Dante: Julian's Mystical Philosophy at augmyst.mp3



Revd Dr James Lawson was Chaplain to the Bishop of Salisbury, is now Vicar of St Michael's, Newington Common, London



FLORIN WEBSITE © JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAYAUREO ANELLO ASSOCIAZIONE, 1997-2017: MEDIEVAL: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, SWEET NEW STYLE: BRUNETTO LATINO, DANTE ALIGHIERI, & GEOFFREY CHAUCER || VICTORIAN: WHITE SILENCE: FLORENCE'S 'ENGLISH' CEMETERY || ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING || WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR || FRANCES TROLLOPE || || HIRAM POWERS || ABOLITION OF SLAVERY || FLORENCE IN SEPIA  || CITY AND BOOK CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII || MEDIATHECA 'FIORETTA MAZZEI' || EDITRICE AUREO ANELLO CATALOGUE || FLORIN WEBSITE || UMILTA WEBSITE || RINGOFGOLD WEBSITE || LINGUE/LANGUAGES: ITALIANO, ENGLISH || VITA
New: Dante vivo || White Silence