Paper grace: Saint’s manuscripts on display at Borough Hall • Brooklyn Paper

Paper grace: Saint’s manuscripts on display at Borough Hall

Hitting the books: Saint Francis’s writings are being shown at Borough Hall.
Brooklyn BP’s Office / Kathryn Kirk

Borough Hall is housing some really old public records.

A collection of the papers of Saint Francis of Assisi are on display at Borough Hall through Jan. 14. The 19 documents date back to the 13th and 14th centuries and include original writings from the patron saint of animals and the environment. Borough President Adams said Saint Francis’s message remains relevant to Brooklynites today.

“We have an opportunity to celebrate their cultural significance and reflect upon the messages in these texts, including empathy for all creatures and a love for the poor and needy in our society,” Adams said.

Francis called for peace among all the creatures of earth, including animals, which is why Catholic priests bless animals during the day honoring him in October. Pope Francis chose his name in honor of the saint, saying he shared Francis’s concern for the poor.

Among the documents on display at Borough Hall is an original draft of the religious song “The Canticle of the Creatures,” which is considered one of the first Italian-language masterworks.

The artifacts had not left Italy in 700 years before they arrived for a private display at the United Nations in November. Borough Hall’s exhibition is the only remaining scheduled chance to see the writings in the United States.

Saint Francis was born in Assisi in the late 1100s to a wealthy family. But in his 20s he forewent his privilege to live in poverty, preaching in the streets and cultivating a following. He organized the first Christmas nativity scene and is believed to have received the stigmata. Pope Gregory IX proclaimed Francis a saint in 1228.

“Friar Francis: Traces, words, images” at Borough Hall [209 Joralemon St. between Court and Adams streets in Downtown, (718) 802–4042, www.brook‌lyn-u‌sa.org/‌pdf/‌StFra‌ncis_‌Calen‌der4.pdf]. Through Jan. 14, various dates and times. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Enter the Catholic chambers: The documents are on display in Borough Hall’s ceremonial courtroom, which has been used as a location on “Law and Order.”
Brooklyn BP’s Office / Kathryn Kirk

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