The Grato Animo medal for Pio D’Andola and Francesco Clemente

The Grato Animo medal for Pio D’Andola and Francesco Clemente

The Custos of the Holy Land awarded the important recognition on the conclusion of the lengthy work of digitalizing SBF’s photographic material

On the morning of Saturday 9 March, the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton awarded the “Grato Animo” medal to fr. Pio D’Andola and Francesco Clemente, on the conclusion of their work digitalizing the photographic material in the archives of the    Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF).

The long work of scanning the photo archive, at the Monastery of the Flagellation, had become necessary to save and protect the priceless heritage, evidence of the hundred years of activity of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. All the material was then copied on to a digital archive which today has well over 200,000 photos in high definition and contains documentation (photographs in black and white, in colour, negatives and slides) which dates back to the 1930s.

Fr. Pio D’Andola, a Franciscan from the Province of Puglia and Molise,  Commissary of the Holy Land of the Puglia Province of San Michele Arcangelo (Foggia), a theologian and tireless accompanier of pilgrims, started to work on these archive materials from 2005, when fr. Michele Piccirillo, archaeologist of the Custody who passed away prematurely in 2008, had started to realize the need to convert all the photographic material and documentation on to more stable and lasting supports.

In 2013, Francesco Clemente,  a knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, started to assist him in the work. He had also spent long periods of time in the Holy Land, including working and using his skills in the works of the Shrine on Mount Nebo,  in Jordan.

“I think that it is necessary and proper to express all our gratitude for the service that Fr. Pio and Mr Francesco Clemente have done in these years here at the Flagellation to protect our precious photographic documentation,” the Custos of the Holy Land began during the celebration of the Eucharist. “I would also like to recall all the great work that fr. Pio has done as a Commissary of the Holy Land  and for his continuous commitment to finding volunteers for Mount Nebo, Emmaus and the Flagellation. And we express our recognition by awarding him the “Grato Animo” medal, which is a medal that the Custody awards to its benefactors.”

A “beautiful” journey through photographs

“For me it was a privilege to have been appointed to keep all this historical heritage safe and protect it,” Fr. Pio D’Andola stressed. “It was a fascinating and beautiful journey. Thanks to the wisdom and the farsightedness of the fathers of the Holy Land who understood that these materials would have been irremediably lost,  we undertook this work of digitalization which goes back over all the cultural and archaeological history  of the last century. Obviously this represents a first step towards the next phase of recognition and cataloguing, in view of allowing the future consultation of the photographic material produced.”

The award of the medal of the Centenary of the SBF

The Dean of the SBF wanted to award the medal of the centenary of the SBF  to fr. Pio and to Francesco Clemente, “as a sign of gratitude and communion.”

“If the SBF has been able to reach a century of activity,” said Fr. Rosario Pierri (his speech in full is here),”it is due in particular to those who have spent their lives for the growth of the school and to those, and they include you, who have supported our predecessors and ourselves, offering their invaluable work. In all these years, everyone has admired the generosity which motivated you in your work. You did it all completely free of charge and with a commitment that will remain indelible in all our memories.”

Silvia Giuliano