On the occasion of the feast of the patron saint of Italy, the feast of St. Francis, a devotional lamp lit day and night in front of the tomb of the saint in the basement of the Basilica of St. Francis came into focus: it represents Italy, the world and universal peace.
(Vatican News Network)On October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy, attention was focused on the devotional lamps in front of the saint’s tomb. Father Pietro Mariano Carta, a member of the Franciscan Inpatient Society, told Peace TV that the lamp was a “symbol of unity and peace”. “Since 1939, when Pope Pius XII declared St. Francis the patron saint of Italy, the devotional lamp has been lit from morning to evening,” he said. At that time, it was the administrative district of Lazio that offered lamp oil, and thus began the tradition of offering lamp oil every year by the residents of one administrative district.
Unlike previous years, this year it is the whole of Italy to take part in the tradition. The lamp was designed by the architect Ugo Tarchi in 1937 and was placed at the entrance to the basement. With the help of a Filipino monk and a Scottish nun, Father Karta is in charge of the lamp. “This devotional lamp represents Italy,” said Fr. Carta.
The Franciscan described the lamp, saying: “The semicircle below represents the world; the dove and the olive branch signify universal peace.” On the periphery is engraved a sentence from No. 26 of Dante’s Divine Comedy in Paradise. Father Tarki said that the lamp is suspended at a height of 1.2 meters, and he can lower the devotion lamp to clean it by pressing a button.
“We clean and add oil every three to four days,” the priest stressed. “Occasionally, the opportunity is used to replace the wick. “Because it’s hanging high, it can easily collect dust”. However, it only takes a little time to keep it tidy and functioning. It’s a routine job, and in October 4th requires more attention. For Father Tarki, the service is the same as that performed by other religious. The priest concludes by saying, “I know there is a tabernacle there, but I Can’t stop to pray. I’m going to continue to keep this modest place neat and tidy.”
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