San Francesco Patrono d’Italia is a monthly magazine with a worldwide circulation, founded in Assisi in 1920 by the Franciscan community of the Sacred Convent of Assisi as part of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of Italy (1226-1926).
It is the official magazine of the Basilica of Saint Francis and the Sacred Convent of Assisi, a point of reference for the Franciscan community spread all over the world and for devotees of Saint Frances. It has a circulation of over 100,000 copies.
The idea of a magazine with a Franciscan inspiration aimed at Italians in general first came to light on 4 October 1920, when the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and the community of the Franciscan convent in Assisi were preparing to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of Saint Francis. The first issue of the magazine illustrated the evangelisation project that inspired the founding of the magazine:
“These pages we are pleased to present are dedicated to everyone. Although popular and descriptive in their intent, they will not distance us from the needs of study and of academics; their critical analysis of a number of aspects of Saint Francis’s life will not tire the reader with an overly learned approach and a lengthy bibliography. The Christian thought that will steer the hand of our writers will be the guiding light of our entire endeavour; because if this was the Christian thought that inspired Saint Francis, and if these are the ideas that earned him such a privileged place in world history, may that thought be a lesson and an invitation to all to reflect on these fine words «”imitare non pigeat quod celebrare delectat”» (S. August. Sermo 46 de Sanctis) San Francesco Patrono d’Italia, issue no. 1, 4 October 1920.
During the early years, the magazine featured articles of a devotional nature. Thereafter, while respecting its links with the convent, the decision was taken to create sections to make the publication more engaging and accessible to a more general readership (opinion, current affairs, education, events, Franciscan simplicity and interaction).
For the “opinioi” articles, the magazine engaged some of the most important writers in Italy, including Ferruccio De Bortoli, Ezio Mauro, Francesco Giorgino, Marco Tarquinio, Aldo Cazzullo, Giacomo Galeazzi, Gianni Maria Vian, Giuseppe De Carli, Orazio La Rocca and Roberto Olla.
For the articles regarding “education”, and Franciscan education in particular, Felice Accrocca, Milvia Bollati, Franco Cardini and Chiara Frugoni were contacted. A group of friars on the magazine’s staff – Father Charles Baldacchino, Father Silvestro Bejan, Father Antonello Fanelli and Father Luigi Marioli -were entrusted with the sections of a formative nature.
The section “Events in the Basilica” seeks to offer a permanently open window on everything that occurs there, while the approach of Franciscan simplicity has been maintained by entrusting a section to the more humble, down-to-earth friars in the convent, such as Fra Vicino. Another aspect of fundamental importance is the magazine’s interaction with its readers, who send in letters and prayers, with a huge number arriving from schools and from prisons, with the former providing four pages of convent every month, thus engaging students from Italy.
The magazine’s in-house staff is composed of three friars – Martin Breski, Pawel Dybka and Francesco Lenti – and the current editor, Enzo Fortunato, assisted by the correspondents Alessio Antonielli, Luisa Benevieri, Andrea Cova, Milena Gentili and Roberto Pacilio.
The external staff is composed of five people, a graphic designer, two programmers and the translation staff.