Christmas in Assisi, a story of light and humanity

Published on Monday, 14 December 2020

“Christmas in this unusual and complex year is an opportunity to promote a more inclusive and sustainable development model: the Sacro Convento di Assisi initiative provides an important moment for reflection and is a sign of hope not just for the future but also for the present which needs attention, listening, faith and innovative ideas.”

– Francesco Starace, Enel CEO and General Manager

Images of one of the great symbols of Christmas, Giotto’s Birth of Jesus frescoes, are being projected on to the façade of the Basilica Superiore, as a reminder of the deep connection between Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy, and the nativity scene which he invented over 800 years ago. Exceptionally detailed images of the frescoes are being projected and they are also being reproduced in 3D, thanks to about a hundred statues that recreate the great innovator of Italian painting’s vision in physical form. The projection of the Annunciation fresco, on the other hand, will grace the façade and bell tower of the Cathedral of San Rufino.

In the evening, the theatrical and monumental illumination of many of the city’s most symbolic sites will be visible from the valley: aside from the Basilica di San Francesco and San Rufino, the Santa Chiara church complex, the Rocca Maggiore and the Rocca Minore, Monte Frumentario, and the Torre Civica in the Piazza del Comune.

An itinerary of luminous stars inspired by the famous frescoed stars on the vaults of the Basilica Inferiore, will be projected onto the sidewalks of the streets linking San Francesco with San Rufino, including the Piazza del Comune.

This light design project was created by architect Mario Cucinella, who explains: “Initially, it seemed like an almost impossible mission but then we did it, thanks to light, an immaterial element that can really express emotions. And in this case, it can help us experience huge emotions in an urban space with the nativity scene there as a moment of sharing and community.”

“These are the things that keep us together: solidarity and tradition. And the nativity scene is part of that,” commented Fondazione Symbola president Realacci.

Virtual participation this year, thanks to technology

Initially designed as a physical event that would draw people together from all over the world, this year’s project, which runs until January 10th, will be all about virtual participation, thanks to a web app on the portal.

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within,” concluded Father Fortunato quoting psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. And what we need today is the light of hope.

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