On Sunday Malta held the ceremony of the Benedictine Torch "Pro Pace et a Europe" and of the Benedictine Celebrations 2012. The tradition of the pilgrimage of the Benedictine Torch in several European capitals goes back to 1964 with the proclamation by Pope Paul VI, of St. Benedict as the principal patron of Europe. It symbolizes the brotherhood and peace on the basis of the Gospel and beyond barriers of political, ideological, and religious beliefs.
In past years the Torch has been lit in Berlin, Prague, Bucharest, Strasbourg, Budapest, Madrid, Lisbon, Warsaw, Brussels, Vienna, Moscow, Jerusalem ... In 2001, the torch arrived in New York to bring a message of hope after the September 11 attacks, while last year it was lit in London, during an ecumenical ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
A delegation from Norcia, Cassino and Subiaco has arrived including the mayor of Norcia Gian Paolo Stefanelli and the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia Renato Boccardo.
The first official event was held on Saturday at the Embassy of the Sacred Military Order of Malta with the inauguration of an exhibition dedicated to the saint of Norcia "Ars: Ora et Labora" and a workshop on Saint Benedict.
Archbishop Paul Cremona lit the torch, the symbol of the spirituality of St. Benedict, during the Mass celebrated on Sunday evening at the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Valletta. The ceremony was attended by numerous political and institutional authorities, among them the Prime Minister of Malta, the Hon Lawrence Gonzi, who, at the end of Mass, welcomed the Torch at the Benedictine Palace Castille.
He delivered this message: "We are living in challenging times. The global financial and economic crisis revealed a gaping hole in our international financial systems – a space that should have been occupied by ethics and values. These challenging times, especially for Europe in this current juncture, should make us reflect on the moral framework that underpins our economic, political and global interconnectedness.
"It is during these times that we, as a continent, need to return to our roots, our long-standing values and guiding principles. As Europeans, it is in the life and works of Saint Benedict, Europe’s patron saint that we should turn to as a source of reflection.
"The simplicity and the profoundness of the Rule of Saint Benedict, aptly captured by the phrase ‘Ora et Labora’ offers us ample food for thought especially for us politicians and policy makers. In such trying times, Benedictine thought should motivate and inspire us policy makers, in our economic and social policy efforts.
"All of us gathered here agree and believe that politics is a means to end, a means to ensuring a better quality of life for present and future generations. For it to be meaningful and effective, politics needs to be built on the vocation that the human being is always at the centre of our activity and vision.
"If we want to keep society together, then a sense of community and solidarity are more important now than ever before. The most fundamental question today is whether we can adopt a more communitarian spirit.
"It is of course easy enough to identify the values and principles that should form the basis of a reformed global order. What is for more challenging is to ensure that these values are applied.
"May this Benedictine torch inspire us all and motivate us to remain committed to our values and principles as individuals and as a society."
Taking part in the event is EU Commissioner Antonio Tajani, Hon. Anna Teresa Formisano (representing the Italian Government), Hon.Carlo Emanuele Trappolino (representing the Chamber of Deputies), Hon. Mario Abbruzzese (President of the Regional Council of Lazio), Fabrizio Bracco (Head of Culture and Tourism of the Region of Umbria), Luca Barberini (representing the Regional Council of Umbria), Donatella Porzi (Minister of Tourism of the Province of Perugia) and the mayors of the City of Norcia, Cassino and Subiaco, respectively Gian Paolo Stefanelli, Giuseppe and Francesco Pelliccia Golini Petrarcone.
Wednesday, March 14 the Torch will be blessed by the pope during his general audience in the Vatican and will return in Norcia the evening of March 20.
Photo: Photocity, Valletta