In 25 june 2007, Padre Costantino Ruggeri, founder and president of Frate Sole Foundation, has passed away.
"I have had the grace and joy of identifying my Faith in my Art and my Art in my Faith".
Painter, scuiptor, stained-giass designer, "batisseur d'eglises" and lastiy, though really perhaps first and foremost, Franciscan friar and priest, Father Costantino was, in the words of Mario Sironi, the soldier of two forces: Faith and Art.
From his childhood in the country around Franciacorta to his youth in the monasteries of Busto Arsizio and Trent, from his ordination as priest in Milan, by way of his initial artistic work and so on to his great masterpieces, Father Costantino Ruggeri has been constantly associated with the renewal of sacred art in ltaly; he was a man of faith for whom religion and art are closely interconneeted.
"My own personal vow is quite simply: never to betray beauty". For, as Dostojevskij rightiy observes: "Beauty alone will save the world".
An artist who is by no means a conformist, his idea of fedelity (to the past, to society, to the Church) is linked to the freedom of renewal, and he has always studiously avoided any form of Manerismo or of preciousness.
He has numbered among his friends such figures as Fontana, Sironi, Morandi, De Pisis, Manzù and Carrà, and his perhaps crucial meeting with Le Corbusier took place in 1960.
Since then "the architecture of the mystic space" has been at the centre of his attention: the ideal of "building churches that, far from separating, should bring together the whole of creation, light, trees, the living imagery and natural sounds of life".
lt is no accident that it is he who, high in his attic room above the roofs and under the sky of Pavia, should now be engaged in planning the new sanctuary of the Divino Amore for Rome, "the living harmony of a blue grotto". He is also the founder of the "Frate Sole" Foundation, which aims to accomodate within the worid the splendour of the sublime and the passion of the divine.
If he is asked why he has undertaken these things, he will reply in all innocence, quoting Matisse:
"They are no more than flowers which day by day I tend in order to make men happy".