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Little Flowers Restored: St. Francis’ Miracles as Told Through the Ages  

A photo of St. Francis statueSpecial Collections and the Gallery at Walsh Library, with support from the UNICO National Foundation, the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Endowed Chair in Italian Studies, the Department of Catholic Studies, and the Charles and Joan Alberto Italian Studies Institute, will proudly present a program titled "Little Flowers Restored: St. Francis' Miracles as Told Through the Ages" on Tuesday, October 4, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Beck Rooms (Walsh Library).

This event is being held on the Feast Day of St. Francis in celebration of the restoration of a rare, century-old book, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, which is now available to researchers in the University Libraries.

About the event

The Little Flowers of St. Francis recounts the miracles of St. Francis distilled from the popular imagination of the 14th century people of Tuscany. In addition to its religious content, it was a popular early work of Italian literature in the vernacular. The volume restored by the UNICO Foundation features a curved, milled wood cover and opulent illustrations by artist Duilio Cambellotti, a sculptor and furniture maker of the Italian Art Nouveau movement. In 2020, the UNICO Foundation generously approved Seton Hall's application for funding to restore this rare 1926 edition of the most famous book about the miracles of St. Francis of Assisi.

"The restoration of this rare, illustrated edition is an important milestone for Seton Hall's Special Collections and Rare books," said John Buschman, D. L. S., Dean of University Libraries. "Donated by a priest to Seton Hall many years ago, like many rare books the volume needed care and conservation to give it life for many more decades. The work was done with great skill by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts based in Philadelphia, and to celebrate the work and St. Francis, we purchased several more rare books on him, with thanks to UNICO for their support."

To mark this occasion, the exhibit and colloquium, taking place during Italian American Heritage Month, will feature talks by two Seton Hall faculty members. The speakers will be introduced by Dean Buschman, and Fr. Nicholas C. Sertich, Director of Campus Ministry, will offer the invocation.

The short talks will include:

  • "A Book With a Memory: Restoring Cambellotti’s The Little Flowers of St. Francis (1926)" by Sarah Ponichtera, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Special Collections & the Gallery.
  • "Chesterton & Francis" by Dermot Quinn, D.Phil. Professor of History and Editor of The Chesterton Review.
  • "The Italian Faces of Francis" by William Connell, Ph.D., Professor of History and La Motta Endowed Chair in Italian Studies.

As Dr. Connell has explained, St. Francis of Assisi has universal appeal, even centuries after his death: "The fascination that continues to surround Francis is absolutely deserved. He came from a well-off family in Assisi, lived the high life with other young friends, and then embarked on a military career; but a series of visions and mystical experiences changed his life, leading him to espouse 'Lady Poverty'. His imitation of Jesus—no individual possessions, living from the charity of others, preaching to common folk—attracted many followers and brought renewed energy and faith to Western Christianity. Although some of the stories around Francis read as though from Biblical times, the historical and material evidence that survives is such that, even after 800 years, he seems a person we can really know."

For these reasons, the accessibility of the edition of The Little Flowers of St. Francis in the University Libraries is particularly relevant, as it can be appreciated by those who conduct academic research and those who seek to uplift their spirits in contemplation, in the tradition of St. Francis.

"Having this beautiful, content-rich book available and restored to its original glory is very significant for our University," said Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Professor of Religion and Director and Chair of the Catholic Studies Program and Department. "The spirituality of St. Francis has perennially been significant in the life of the Church. His influence on modern saints, including St. Teresa of Kolkata, invites us to journey with him. By learning about St. Francis, we learn about Christ—and we discover ways to follow Christ, growing in appreciation of God's Creation."

To register for this event, please visit the link here

For more information about the University Archives and Special Collections, please visit the link here

Categories: Faith and Service

For more information, please contact:

  • Barbara Ritchie
  • (973) 275-2967