New York: The Press of Valenti Angelo, 1951. Original stiff card (10 1/8 inches tall) with integral blue paper dust wrapper lettered in brown. Penciled signature to front flyleaf, gentle toning to edges, short closed tear to upper front wrapper, slight closed split to bottom front joint, but a pristine copy internally. Item #931
"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 the Canticle of the Sun—one of only 100 copies designed and printed by Valenti Angelo on his own press—and illustrated with a fine portrait of Saint Francis. 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" (James Martin). "Francis had a vivid sense of the sacramentality of creation. All things, whether living or inanimate, 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). 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.'” A devout Catholic all his life, this rendering of Saint Francis's reverent tribute to "Mother Earth, Sister Moon and Brother Sun" was the Italian-born Angelo's tribute to his adopted hometown of San Francisco, California. Printed in red-and-black on watermarked, deckle-edged paper with a luminous colored 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. Signed by Angelo on the colophon: "One hundred copies printed by Valenti Angelo on the hand press in December 1951 / This copy for Paul Bennett." This copy was printed for one of Angelo's friends and fellow bookmen: Paul A. Bennett, a typographer and co-founder of the Typophiles Society. Bennett's name appears in pencil on the front flyleaf. Martin, My Life with the Saints. Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time.