One year after the Statio Orbis
St. Peter’s Square – 27 March 2021
March 27 will mark the first anniversary of the Statio Orbis presided over by Pope Francis on the Sagrato of St. Peter’s Basilica.
What happened on March 27 in Saint Peter’s Square? Something both simple and huge happened. An extraordinary moment of prayer united the world. The images were powerful, dramatic. Many asked themselves questions regarding what they witnessed. But the most important thing that happened was not visible to the naked eye… Where does the need to pray arise? Wherein lies the extraordinary quality of March 27? In the liturgy? In the camera angles? Or in the truth that it represented? For weeks, it seemed that an evening had fallen without the prospect of daylight. For weeks, the world looked to Rome, to the Pope, to find answers in his words that did not focus on the number of victims… The truth is that March 27 was a mysterious and powerful moment of chairos around a simple prayer… The extraordinary quality of March 27 lies precisely here. Its communicative capacity arises from the truth. The Pope was alone like each one of us. We are all alone before God. We are all united before God. We are all weak and in His hands… The word always needs silence. And silence is eloquent only when the word echoes. Thus it was on March 27. That silence, as the Pope said, questioned us: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” That silence was an appeal to believe – an urgent appeal: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). That silence called us “to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing”. In that silence Pope Francis’s words resounded: “It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to You, Lord, and to others”. (from the Introduction P. Ruffini)
The celebration of March 27 will remain etched in the memories of all men and women who, locked down, frightened and lost due to the unexpected tempest of the Covid-19 pandemic, were watching Pope Francis from the heart of the Church on their screens. Breathing heavily, he went up to the Temple and bade us to wake up. He made Jesus’s words resound in almost every corner of the universe: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” He reminded us that we are sinking alone and he invited us to surrender our fears to Jesus, and through Him, to obtain serenity in the midst of the tempest. Then he entrusted everyone to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Protectress of His People. He prayed to God in silence, at the foot of the cross of Christ, and he blessed us with the Blessed Sacrament… Therefore, the narrative of this event wove the plot between the Merciful God always present in human history, and His Church who, filled with fear, interceded for those who needed to be encouraged to believe and trust once again… With Jesus on board the boat of History, it will not sink. Thus, just as Jesus woke up to revive the faith of the disciples, the Holy Father went up to the Temple to revive the faith of the contemporary world … The Statio Orbis should be the point of departure to create something new, for a radical cultural shift. Thus, from the meditation he provided in this liturgy a Papal Magisterium begins, a teaching that provides a rich analysis of the reality and its causes – how humanity has contributed to the manifestation of the crisis. If the pandemic has manifested the weakness of our culture, it is necessary that we learn from the crisis how to emerge from it different, because you never come out of a crisis the same: you are either better or worse after it, but never the same. (from the Conclusion L. Ruiz)
In order to remember better, to be able to pray, to be able to think, and to make this historic event accessible to the People of God who, on that day, were present in St. Peter’s Square with their hearts and prayers and participated through the available means of communication, the idea came about to gather together the archival material (photos, texts and videos) to present it in a book, to offer the reader an opportunity to pause, to rethink their lives and start afresh, with a renewed gaze for their brothers and sisters and the world.
The Pope shows how a believer faces difficulties and dark moments. He shows how to be open to God when He seems to be absent. Francis prays for everyone and with everyone. He is, more than ever, the pons (“bridge” in Latin), the “pontiff” with the Mystery of God who is silent.
Through this book, the Dicastery for Communication wishes to commit its images and words to history, in order to illuminate the path ahead, in the awareness that we cannot remain silent about what we have seen and heard, so they may be “recounted and committed to memory” (cf. Message for the 54th World Day of Social Communications).
The book is divided into two parts that are distinct but closely connected: Prayer and Teaching. In that moment of prayer, the world paused, together with the Holy Father, to pray and implore Mercy. In prayer, the Pope exhorted us, just as Jesus did with the disciples, to have faith, because “with Him on board there will be no shipwreck.” As regards teaching, we were invited to make a sincere examination of conscience, understand what is truly essential, rethink the way we act, in large and small circumstances, understand where we have lost our way and how to find our way back.
The QR code at the end of the book enables us to view the video of that evening and will allow us to continue to follow pontifical teaching even after the publication of the book.
The book was produced by the LEV in co-edition with Bayard and they are bringing it together around the world: in particular to French and German-speaking countries; they have also involved other partners to reach other languages and countries: Piemme for the Italian edition, OSV for the English edition, Encuentro for Spain, Leya-D.Quixiote for Portugal, Novalis for Quebec, La Oficina del Libro for Argentina, Edições CNBB for Brazil, CELAM for Latin America and the Caribbean. Other publishers will be contacted in the coming months to continue distributing the work throughout the world.
The publication of this book is intended to contribute to remember and relive the event but, above all, to live in the faith in Jesus in order to render this crisis an opportunity for growth and change and to trust that the Lord is with us, even during the storm, saying to us: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”.
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Dicastero per la Comunicazione