New York: The Press of Valenti Angelo, 1951. Limited edition. Large slim octavo (10 1/4 inches tall), original stiff illustrated wrappers, original cream printed dust wrapper, original glassine dust jacket. Chipping to fragile original glassine. A nearly-fine copy. Item #419
"HERE BEGIN THE PRAISES OF THE CREATURES WHICH THE BLESSED FRANCIS MADE TO THE PRAISE & HONOR OF GOD WHILE HE WAS ILL AT SAINT DAMIAN'S" Splendid limited edition of Valenti Angelo's hand-crafted printing of The Canticle of the Sun, Saint Francis's reverent tribute to "Mother Earth, Sister Moon and Brother Sun," one of only 100 copies printed and illustrated by Angelo on his own press. The years preceding Francis's death in the fall of 1226 were a time of decline: "Francis's last few years were filled with pain and discomfort, from both his eyes and the stigmata. Still, he composed during this time his joyful 'Canticle of Brother Sun,' which he wrote on his last visit to San Damiano. It was a final expression of his lifelong love of creation and his innate sense of the sacramentality, or holiness, of all things, animate or inanimate." (James Martin, My Life with the Saints).
Printed in red and black on watermarked, deckle-edged paper with a colored woodcut frontispiece of Saint Francis and a smaller red vignette in the colophon. The frontispiece portrait captures the profound mysticism of Saint Francis, the essence of the Franciscan tradition. "Francis had a vivid sense of the sacramentality of creation. All things, whether living or inanimiate, reflected their Creator's love and were thus due reverence and wonder. In this spirit he composed his famous 'Canticle of Creation,' singing the praises of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and even Sister Death. Altogether his life and his relationship with the world--including animals, the elements, the poor and sick, as well as prices and prelates, women as well as men, represented the breakthrough of a new model of human and cosmic community." (Robert Ellsberg, All Saints). Pope Francis summoned the spirit of his namesake in his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si ("Praise be to You"): "In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. 'Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.'”.