De crowdfunding actie waarover ik al eerder een blog schreef
heeft gisteren de New York Times gehaald.
De test in Engels is:
Aging Church Passes Digital Collection Plate
(Oude kerk geeft de digitale collectiesachaal door).
Not far from the banks of the Tiber
River, the 800-year-old church of St. Francis at
Ripa has never been one of Rome’s most famous
destinations. A quietly glorious Baroque
sanctuary, with the famous statue by Bernini
tucked into a side chapel, it has often been
overlooked by tourists and Roman Catholics in a
city so rich with other splendors.
Then, a year ago, a new pope was elected from
Argentina who unexpectedly took the name
Francis, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the
venerated Catholic saint born in the 12th century
who dedicated himself to the poor. It so
happened that the small church by the Tiber
(named for St. Francis) had a dark upstairs room
where he slept centuries ago during his visits to
Rome. It even had the stone that St. Francis
purportedly used as a pillow.
Interest suddenly ticked up. Tour groups started
coming by. For the Rev. Stefano Tamburo, the Franciscan friar in charge of
the church, this was welcome news, except that the building had not been
significantly renovated since the 17th century. The room, or cell, used by St.
Francis needed repair, yet the church did not have $125.000 for the project.
Franciscans take a vow of poverty and for centuries
have depended on charity. So that is
what Father Tamburo and the other
Franciscans at the church are now doing, if
with a contemporary approach: They have
begun a 30-day online fund-raising campaign,
using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
‘We have nothing against modern tools of
communication,’ Father Tamburo said, ‘What
is important to us is our tradition. Not the
tools that we use to spread that tradition.’
The church and attached monastery house
nine Franciscans, about a dozen or so
migrants who are receiving shelter and
assistance, and three computers. Father
Tamburo said he had not known much about online fund-raising untill the
idea was suggested by a media relations firm, but now he checks several
times a day to see how the campaign is progressing. (So far, the answer is
slowly. The campaign has raised just over $34.780 with nine days to go.)
Situated at the edge of Trastevere, an ancient neighborhood of narrow,
cobblestone streets now known for its restaurants and night life, the St.
Francis at Ripa church dates to the early 1200s and was erected on the site
of a medieval hospital. St. Francis had won admiration for his work with
lepers at the hospital, and the land was eventually handed over to his
His cell is above what is now the church’s choir stall, located behind
the altar. It is a spare, darkened room, with a wooden altar, which contains
relics such as shards of bones from saints and martyrs. Behind a metal
screen is a stone that St. Francis is said to have used as a pillow to lean
against as he slept in a sitting position in the cell, (Such stones were
considered holy in medieval Christianity.)
Father Tamburo said the cell was nearly destroyed during the 17th century,
when wealthy patrons financed a major renovation that transformed the
simpler medieval sanctuary into one with the lush, ornate features
of the Baroque era.
This is not the Franciscan style, Father Tamburo said, chuckling as he
walked through the nave, which was filled with dusty statuary of former
cardinals and noble patrons, and with fading frescoes on the ceiling
of the side chapels.
During the Baroque-era renovation, the architect wanted to raze the
St. Francis cell in order to expand and elevate the choir stall.
Franciscan monks opposed the razing, according to letters found at the chuch,
and eventually the cardinal overseeing the project intervened.
The cardinal had a dream in which St. Francis appeared to him and said,
‘So, do you want to kick me out of my house?’, Farther Tamburo said.
The current renovation aims to preserve the cell and possibly reveal its
original character. Alessia Scazzuso, a restauration artist, first examined the
cell in 2009 and proposed using laser technology to asses the walls and
learn what is underneath. One question is whether St. Francis inscribed the
walls with the tau symbol from the ancient Hebrew alphabet, as he was
known to do in some other places.
‘We want to give back the real history of the cell by studying the layers
in the walls,’ she said. ‘We don’t know what is under the walls.’
MS. Scazzuso’s proposal was approved in 2009 by Italy’s Ministry of
Interior, which owns and administers the church along with 750 historical
churches across the country. But the fund dedicated to maintenance and
renovations was only 1.7 million euros, or just over $2 million, last year after
the budget cuts that were part of austerity efforts by Italy’s government.
No money was allocated for renovating the St. Francis cell.
‘Funds were not enough before the cuts, and they are less so now,’
said Lucia Di Maro, the government official in charge of the fund. ‘Just repairing
the electrical system of an ancient church can cost 200.000 or 300.000 euro.’
Father Tamburo said he and other friars decided against even asking the
state to pay for the renovation, given the economic crisis in the country and
the needs of the poor. He now compares the Kickstarter campaign to the
ancient tradition of questua, or asking for public donations, as St. Francis
Under the rules of Kickstarter, the campaign must reach the goal of
$125.000 in the allotted 30 days; in the case of a shortfall, donations are
returned. The friars have tried to stir interest through the Italian news media.
‘I’m convinced we’ll find a way forward,’ Father Tamburo said. ‘We hope
we’ll make it.’
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