The association “Associazione Patriarchi della Natura in Italia” (Association of Nature Patriarchs in Italy) has given special gift to Pope Francis: the reproduction of the Cypress that was planted by St.Francis 800 years ago, which is still living in Romagna.
An ancient tradition has it that St.Francis, founder of the local convent of Friars Minor in Verrucchio, had planted the stick he used during his wanderings, after having tried to burn it in the fireplace with no success. As it seemed to be eager to live, the Saint grabbed it and planted it in the yard of the cloister. Miraculously, the cypress branch from which the stick was made started to sprout giving birth to the 30-metres tree that still lives there after 800 years.
This cypress is probably the biggest and oldest in Italy (830 years old) and it is highly probable that it was actually linked to St.Francis. The Association of Nature Patriarchs managed to reproduce the cypress by seed giving birth to a few new trees.
The mother plant – very much alike to a wooden sculpture – still lives in the cloister of the friars in Villa Verrucchio, near Rimini.
The association wanted to pay homage to the Holy Father with the small cypress that is closely linked to the poor man of Assisi, the first naturalist in history and patron saint of Italy. Through contacts with the Vatican the proposal of such a gift was accepted with great pleasure due to its originality and the Holy Father really appreciated it.
Following the Papal audience that took place in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday 16th 2016, the association gave Pope Francis the precious cypress which will be planted in the Pontifical Villas in Castelgandolfo. This way its germplasm will be protected and its story linked to the Christian liturgy will be made known. The association hopes that the Vatican State will do something in order to protect and give value to the monumental trees in the Vatican city and in the Pontificial Villas.