St Francis of Assisi founded his order of mendicant friars in the 13th century, after receiving a calling from God to 'rebuild my Church.' Some 800 years later, St Francis' followers are rebuilding his church in the ancient tradition but with a very modern twist.
With interest in things Franciscan at an all-time high, the friars who run the San Francesco a Ripa church in Rome's Trastevere neighbourhood are launching a Kickstarter online fundraising campaign this week to try to raise A$137,000 for the restoration of the tiny cell where St Francis stayed when he came to Rome to see the popes starting in 1209, the Associated Press has learned.
Rather than ask for funding from the Italian government, which owns the church and is responsible for its upkeep, the friars decided on this more democratic crowd-funding initiative, thinking it more in keeping with the Franciscan tradition of seeking alms for just what they need, spreading the faith as they beg and making sure the poor are the priority.
'It seemed important to us, very Franciscan even, to say that today, perhaps public money should be destined to more urgent things, more important things like social issues that are affecting Italy and Europe at large,' said Stefano Tamburo, the 43-year-old guardian of the sanctuary who is spearheading the campaign.
'So like the friars in the past would go asking for a piece of bread, today we are going to ask for a dollar, a euro, so we can make this place as it was in the time of St Francis.'
Kickstarter is one of dozens of crowd-funding websites that have sprung up in recent years to let people raise money for specific projects, with the catch being that the money is returned to donors if the target isn't met in a certain time frame. Kickstarter campaigns have included Spike Lee movies, funky restaurants, arts projects and business startups.
Since it was founded in 2009, more than $1 billion has been pledged for 136,000 projects, though only about 44 percent of them were successfully completed, according to Kickstarter's website.
FULL STORY Franciscans Launch Kickstarter Restoration Project In Italy To Honor Patron Saint Francis (Huffington Post)