Pope Francis Inaugurates New Vatican Library Exhibit saying "Jesus speaks of the beauty of his disciples: he challenges them to shine, to make visible the beauty of their works as a form of praise to God"




Vatican Apostolic Library - Friday, 5 November 2021

Dear brothers and sisters!

My cordial greeting to all of you. I thank the Cardinal Archivist and Librarian for his words. I greet Cardinal Farina who wished to honor us with his presence. I greet the Prefect, the Vice-Prefect, the members of the working community of the Vatican Apostolic Library and all the distinguished guests and friends present.

In John's Gospel, the adjective kalòs (beautiful) is used exclusively with reference to Jesus and his mission. It is here, for example, that the Christological title "I am the beautiful shepherd" (10:11) appears on the lips of Jesus , which we usually translate "I am the good shepherd". 


 It is true, Jesus is the good shepherd, but also a beautiful one. In Matthew's Gospel, however, Jesus speaks of the beauty of his disciples: he challenges them to shine, to make visible the beauty of their works as a form of praise to God: "Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your works. beautiful and give glory to your Father who is in heaven "(5:16).

Beauty is not the fleeting illusion of an appearance or an ornament: it comes instead from the root of goodness, truth and justice which are its synonyms. But we must not neglect to think and talk about beauty, because the human heart does not need only bread, it does not need only what guarantees its immediate survival: it also needs culture, what touches the soul, which brings the human being closer to his profound dignity. For this reason the Church must bear witness to the importance of beauty and culture, dialoguing with the particular thirst for the infinite that defines the human being.

For these reasons too, I am happy to inaugurate the exhibition hall of the Vatican Library today, and my wish is that its light will shine. Certainly shine through science, but also through beauty. And I thank all those who have worked so hard to create this space, made possible by the generosity of friends and benefactors and the attention and architectural and scientific care of professionals.

You wanted the opening exhibition to be a reflection on the Encyclical Brothers All . You have set it up as a dialogue built on works that belong to the Library and on works by a contemporary artist, whom I greet and thank. I appreciate this bet to create a dialogue. Life is the art of encounter. Cultures get sick when they become self-referential, when they lose curiosity and openness to the other. When they exclude rather than integrate. What advantage do we have in becoming border guards rather than guardians of our brothers? The question that God repeats to us is: "Where is your brother?" (cf. Gen 4 : 9).

Dear friends, the world needs new maps . In this epochal change that the pandemic has accelerated, humanity needs new maps to discover the meaning of fraternity, social friendship and the common good. The logic of closed blocks is sterile and full of misunderstandings. We need a new beauty, which is no longer the usual reflection of the power of some, but the courageous mosaic of the diversity of all. May it not be the mirror of a despotic anthropocentrism, but a new canticle of creatures, where an integral ecology is effectively concretized.

From the beginning of my pontificate I have called the Church to become a "Church that goes forth" (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 20-24) and protagonist of the culture of encounter. The same thing goes for the Library. All the better it serves the Church if, in addition to guarding the past, it dares to be a frontier of the present and the future. I know that you are aware of this: that our responsibility is to keep the roots alive, the memory, always reaching out towards the flowers and fruits. Let's dream of "new maps" together. I am thinking in particular of the need to move from analogue to digital, to increasingly translate our heritage into new languages. True, it is a historical challenge that we must face wisely and boldly. I count on the Apostolic Library to translate the deposit of Christianity and the richness of humanism into the languages ​​of today and tomorrow.

I thank you for this beautiful result of your work and for the good you do. May my Blessing accompany you. And please pray for me. Thanks!

[At the end of the meeting Pope Francis addressed the BAV employees with these words:]

Thank you very much for your work, your testimony: it is hidden work but to support everything ... We, at times, think about the value of things or people that we see, but there are many, many hidden people who carry on life, family, world, society, everything, culture… Thank you for this work, thank you. And I ask the Lord to bless you, you and your families. [Blessing] And thank you, thank you one more time.