Divo Barsotti A 20th-century’s mystical man
By means of this exhibition, we shall do our best to enter the thought, experience and inner life of a man, a monk, a priest, don Divo Barsotti, a Tuscan mystic of our century, who died in February 2006.
He was a prolific writer – over 160 published books -, a preacher; he staged spiritual exercises throughout the world and, in 1971, also for pope Paul VI and the Roman curia.
In the Dictionary of Italian spirituality, don Divo is placed among the 10 major spiritual figures of the 20th century.
But above all, that for which Don Divo would like to be remembered is the fact that he was in love with God, a man impregnated with the presence of the Lord crucified and resurrected, a witness of the Absolute, anxious only to know and love Jesus and make him known.
Through 8 sections, which cover his entire life, his thought and his spirituality, this exhibition will try to present him.
At the end of the exhibition, a short video will try and convey an even better idea of the temperament and spiritual importance of don Barsotti.
An image and short poem by don Divo can act as an introduction:
Beyond the word silence;
a pure presence:
You are eye that looks.
If we want to define a mystic, he is this eye that looks.
A contemplator and above all a person that knows how to look.
Divo Barsotti learnt to use the word, he used it very well, he was a great writer and a great preacher but, even more, he was a person who realised that the word is not enough to reveal the mystery of God, you must go beyond, you must manage to grasp this Pure and silent presence.
Each section contains:
-a number of panels illustrating his life
-some others with phrases giving us an idea of his thought and his experience relating to the illustrated topic,
-some large and important photos, that will allow us to enter the atmosphere. The photos are accompanied by the poems of don Barsotti.
-At the end of the exhibition, a 20-minute video will attempt to bring us even closer to the soul, the temperament and the spiritual aspect of don Divo, through excerpts of his meditations, a Holy Mass which he celebrated and the landscapes and faces that surrounded him.
The eight rooms will guide us through his life and his spirituality: the landscapes and the suggestions of the birthplaces of don Divo and his yearning for the absolute of God in Jesus which he felt from his youth and the events that led him to live in Florence and found the Comunità dei Figli di Dio (Community of the children of God) his love of Russia and eastern spirituality and for everything beautiful and authentic which human culture has to offer, until we reach the heart of the exhibition, meaning the heart of the spirituality of don Divo: the Eucharist and the eschatological dimension of existence.
Anyone who has taken part in one of his Masses says that these are difficult to forget considering the intensity in which he took part in the Holy Sacrifice.
There is a “key” phrase to the spirituality of don Divo:
“Look at me in the Eucharist. This is how your life should be: everything for human beings but always in God alone”.
This phrase enables us to understand a lot about his mystic experience: his relationship with Christ, his contemplative life, his sacramental spirituality, his relations with others, his “Immobile escape” from the world: though desiring God, he did not leave the world, he did not close himself in a monastery, he did not escape to a hermitage, though yearning for God and to God only being absolute. By means of this phrase, we perhaps understand what we have seen so far in the exhibition: his relationship with men, with his Community, the love he conveyed to culture, for literature, for everything human… but always remaining in God alone, always starting with God and bringing all to God.
Don Divo’s heritage has been taken up by the Community he founded; a Community of a monastic-contemplative nature that brings together people of different social extraction.
This is the Comunità dei Figli di Dio.