Source: Vatican News/Julian Filochowski
Pope Francis placed the upcoming Amazon Synod under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi, in a ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday.
Signs, symbols and music echoed the words: 'everything is connected' which recur many times in Pope Francis' Encyclical, Laudato Sì.
The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, closed the 'Season of Creation' which began on 1 September. This year also marks 40 years since Pope St John Paul II proclaimed St Francis Patron Saint 'of those who promote ecology'. In just two days, the Synod for the Amazon will open, the first Synod ever to address the issue of integral ecology.
The Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, and the Global Catholic Climate Movement organised the event, while several religious congregations and representatives of the indigenous people of Amazonia played important roles in providing colour and creativity.
The ceremony culminated with the planting of a holm oak from Assisi. The name of the tree is believed to come from the old Anglo-Saxon word for 'holly' meaning 'holy.'
Some of the soil in which the tree was planted came the Amazon, celebrating the wealth of the bioregion's cultures and traditions, and bathed in the blood of those who have died fighting against its destruction. There was earth from India, representing countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, where droughts and floods leave millions devastated; soil representing refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes because of war, poverty, and ecological devastation. There was also earth from places of human trafficking, and from sustainable development projects around the world.
The tree also stands in soil from the places where St Francis walked, in and around Assisi: a place of encounter with the Creator, where the Saint composed the first part of his 'Canticle of the Creatures'. Written in the 13th Century, it is believed to be one of the first works of literature in the Italian language. A musical version of this prayer-poem accompanied the tree planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens.
The Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson was present at the ceremony. He said the "Season of Creation" is "not only a time for prophetic gestures…but a time for wisdom," a season to respond to the ecological crisis". Pope Francis' Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, said the Cardinal, suggests "a time of change: humanity's turning a new leaf to save the planet."
Watch a Youtube video of the ceremony: www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6P39XswlzI
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