A "Laudato si Garden'" in the heart of the Veneto Regional Park of the Po Delta. This project, inspired by Laudato Si', is part of the celebrations for the Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, announced by the Pope, which was presented on October 4th in Rosolina (Rovigo), promoted by seven municipalities in the area (in addition to Rosolina, Ariano nel Polesine, Corbola, Loreo, Porto Viro, Porto Tolle, Taglio di Po), the Veneto Region and Veneto Agricoltura, as well as the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See.
The "Laudato Si' Garden" project originated as an idea for a new model of development, thanks to the collaboration of seven local Administrations and the productive, economic, educational and social territorial forces. Following the publication of the Encyclical Letter Laudato si' (2015), they decided to create a partnership for the enhancement and care of ecosystems and biodiversity in the Po Delta area, integrating them with human activities, and also creating a new expressive language inspired by interconnection. The concerned local administrators and decision makers took the challenging exhortation of Pope Francis in "asking, please, all those who occupy roles of responsibility in the economic, political or social spheres, all men and women of good will: we are "guardians" of creation, of God's plan inscribed in nature, guardians of the other, of the environment" (Francis, Homily at the Mass at the beginning of the Petrine ministry, 19.III.2013).
The project of the Garden was presented during an event on October 4th, which happily united faith, word, music, art and nature, with the involvement and participation of all the territorial actors (companies, craftsmen, schools, parishes, civil society associations, representatives of the political-economic world). In the presence of Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as well as other authorities representing the world of Institutions at local, national and international level, the tenor Francesco Grollo held a "Live Concert for Integral Ecology" in Rosolina. He was accompanied by the Italian Rhythmic-Symphonic Orchestra conducted by maestro Diego Basso, as well as the Art Voice Academy and Opera House choirs. The concert included pieces from the Christian tradition, among others ("Tu ci sei"; "Nessun dorma"; "Canto della terra", performed exceptionally on the piano by the composer, maestro Francesco Sartori; "Panis Angelicus", plus some off-programme pieces). The pieces symbolized the harmonious link between life, human relations, economy, values of encounter and welcoming, protection of eco-systems and biodiversity. It took place on a platform floating on the water. At the end, Card. Turkson inaugurated the "Laudato Si' Chapel", created by Arch. Mario Cucinella with the collaboration of some internationally renowned technical partners.
The different musical performances and sings were complemented with some interventions of those who have followed and supported the project. After the institutional greetings, including that of the President of the Veneto Region, Mr. Luca Zaia, and the video message of Mr. Guenther Nooke, Personal Advisor for Africa of the German Chancellor Mrs. Angela Merkel, the following took the floor: Sister Alessandra Smerilli, Coordinator of the Economic Taskforce of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission, established by Pope Francis; Mrs. Beatrice Finh, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Nobel Peace Prize 2017; Mr. Si Qiuli, Chinese contemporary artist, who was present in video link; Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, Head of the Year of the Special Anniversary Laudato si’ and Coordinator of the Ecology Taskforce of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission; Mr. Alessio Pecorario, Coordinator of the Security Taskforce of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission; H.E. Mrs. Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See; Arch. Mario Cucinella, author of the "Laudato Si' Chapel". The event was presented by Mrs. Eugenia Scotti, author and TV presenter.
"The Garden project - said Card. Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development - is an example of the concreteness that the Holy Father constantly asks of us, and which is found in the Social Doctrine of the Church: to see, discern and put into practice. This is what has been done in the Po Delta. And I was very impressed that among the initial inputs there was the exhortation of a parish priest, Fr. Lino Mazzocco, who - when Laudato Si’ was published - encouraged the administrators of the area to discern if they could do something useful together, for the care of their common home. That is, for this beautiful area, where there is a unique combination of land and water, and where families, communities and productive activities intervene. From the difficulties, as there have been here, we come out connecting all the aspects; the same from the crises like the one we are experiencing: since everything is connected, it is necessary to work together as a single body".
Fr. Josh Kureethadam explained the link between the Laudato si' and the new encyclical of Pope Francis "Fratelli tutti", which came out on 4 October: "I would say that Fratelli tutti is a sister of the Laudato si': in the Laudato si' the Pope invited us to take care of the common home; in this last encyclical he reminds us that in this common home we live as a family, we are all brothers and sisters".
The Po Delta is, in fact, an inhabited and cultivated place, a land that the river has built and human beings have shaped and transformed. A treasure chest of biodiversity. All the more reason - said Franco Vitale, Mayor of Rosolina, representing all the mayors of the Po Delta of Veneto, Franco Vitale - "we are grateful to the Holy Father and to the project Laudato si’ Garden, because in this way it is highly recognized what has always been for us all a heritage to be respected, valued and perpetrated". The “Laudato si’ Chapel” will be placed in the Porto Caleri Botanical Garden, wanted by Veneto Region and managed by Veneto Agricoltura together with the Po Delta Park as a synthesis of the naturalistic values of this unique wetland area. "So - added Alberto Negro, Extraordinary Commissioner of the Veneto Agricoltura Regional Agency - if before it was a witness of water and earth, from now on, thanks to the blessing of the Holy Father, this territory will be a sign of water, earth and sky".
"In the context of the Po Delta - said Arch. Mario Cucinella about the Living Chapel - we must not add anything except building a new friendship with nature. ‘The Living Chapel' is a light in the night of this park, an immaterial sign and an architecture to watch the spectacle of nature".
Excited by the musical performance of the "Canto della Terra", like all the audience present, even the protagonists of the concert themselves. "The performance of the piece together with Maestro Diego Basso and the tenor Francesco Grollo was the most intense among those made so far. A moment that I will carry forever in my heart. - declared Maestro Francesco Sartori, author of the piece - The inspiration for the composition of this piece came to me from my family, in particular from my daughters, who made me understand that we can live on this planet only because we are welcomed by it and for this reason we must love and respect it. To perform it on the occasion of the inauguration of the Garden "Laudato si'" was like closing a circle, as if in this context my composition had finally found its right place".
"It was an incredible experience to play accompanied by the motion of the tides. - says Maestro Diego Basso, who arrives in Porto Caleri after taking Ennio Morricone's music to the 2540 metres of the San Pellegrino Pass - At the end of the performance we realised we had played at an angle because the sweetness of nature accompanied us and took us where he wanted us to be. As if the music and the sea had united in an embrace of love. The "Canto della Terra" was the soundtrack of this event which, as Pope Francis also recalled during the Angelus from St. Peter's Square, was extraordinary. It is a song that also brings with it the hope, after the difficult period we have lived through, that we will also be able to find a new energy from the earth that surrounds us, from the sky, from the water. People really need to be reconciled with nature and love. And music, especially when performed and listened to live, becomes an indispensable tool for this to happen".
Tenor Francesco Grollo, who, among other things, gave a concert in front of Pope Francis in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican on 28 September, said: "The "Song of the Earth" is a piece that encapsulates the great tradition of opera but with an eye to the future. And above all it is "La Romanza" which brought together Maestro Francesco Sartori and Maestro Diego Basso and myself in a common project. I like to consider it the main soundtrack of this wonderful project "Laudato si'", a sign of peace and harmony. Music and singing immerse us in this dimension of harmony: they bring us closer together, put us in relation with creation and open us to praise and transcendence".
After the 4th of October, the project will continue with a series of initiatives dedicated to schools, parishes, businesses, universities and families, so that everyone can commit to living the message of Laudato Si’.