Coinciding with Earth Day, Laudato Si’ Movement and other local partners launched an ambitious new project for Assisi’s visitors to explore in-depth Saint Francis’ famous Canticle of the Creatures and the Laudato Si’ encyclical that it inspired. The initiative was launched in preparation for the “Laudato Si’ Jubilee” of 2025, the double anniversary of the 800 years of the Franciscan canticle and the 10 years of the encyclical, coinciding also with the Holy Year to take place at the Vatican. 

Entitled “ASSISI Terra Laudato Si’”, Italian for “ASSISI The Land of Laudato Si’”, it will offer pilgrims an opportunity to learn in depth about the “integral ecology” messages of both texts in the place that inspired them. By connecting ancient sanctuaries and forests where the medieval saint experienced a deep sense of connection with the natural world, the initiative will offer a “Come and See” experience for pilgrims wanting to taste the “ecological spirituality” proposed by the encyclical. 

It is a fruit of a collaboration between LSM’s new Laudato Si’ Center in Assisi and local partners as the Franciscans, the Diocese of Assisi, the Municipality of Assisi, and Pro Civitate Christiana. After the announcement last year by Bishop Domenico Sorrentino together with Cardinal Michael Czerny of the Vatican, the project is now ready to begin receiving visitors.

The official inaugural events included the participation of various LSM leaders: executive director Susana Réfega, former executive director and coordinator of LSM’s Assisi center Tomás Insua, members of the international Board of Directors (which will have its annual meeting this week in Assisi), Secretariat members Christina Leaño and Reba Elliott, and LS Center project manager Antonio Caschetto. 

Moreover, the events featured speakers such as bishop Domenico Sorrentino, mayor Stefania Proietti, and climate scientist Vito Stanzione. An interfaith prayer service closed the day with leaders of different Christian denominations and religious traditions, stressing how care for the earth is an issue that brings us together regardless of our beliefs. 

Attracting over 2 million pilgrims annually, Assisi is one of the most vibrant hearts of Christendom. Moreover, as a UNESCO “World Heritage Site”, it is also appealing to non-Christians due to the universal significance of St. Francis. For the first time, those visitors will have the opportunity to understand experientially why he is the patron saint of ecology, as declared by St. John Paul II in 1979.

As explained on the website, the project will offer a series of programs and initiatives aimed at spreading the values of integral ecology, accompanied by the natural beauty of the mountains of central Italy. For example, the offering includes Laudato Si’ spiritual retreats, immersive programs in the silence of the forest, guided pilgrimages to relevant Franciscan sanctuaries, formation courses, and screenings of the YouTube Originals film “The Letter: A Message for our Earth”, partly shot in Assisi. Volunteer opportunities, both short and long term, are available for those willing to serve in Assisi and support pilgrims to undergo an “ecological conversion”. 

LSM’s Laudato Si’ Center serves as facilitator of the project, in deep collaboration with the Diocese of Assisi, the Franciscan families, the Assisi municipality, Pro Civitate Christiana, and FAI. Please join us in praying for this new initiative to bear abundant fruit!