Laudes Creaturarum

Francis of Assissi.
Laudes Creaturarum. Translated to English from the earliest known copy by Barbara Carle. Design and letterpress by Myriam S. P. de Arteni. Fifteen original drawings in Sumi ink by Stefan Arteni.
[Jackson Heights, New York: Sol Invictus], 1992. (AFC3154)

Signed by Myriam S. P. Arteni and Stefan Arteni below the colophon. Numbered 8 in an edition of twenty-six copies.

Perhaps the first literary work written in the Italian language, Francis of Assisi’s Laudes Creaturarum (Praise of the Creatures), also known as O Cantico di Frate Sole (The Canticle of Brother Sun), was composed in 1224 by Francis, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1181 or 1182. He died in 1226. The canticle offers expressions of praise to God through his creations: Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire, Sister Mother Earth, those who forgive and bear suffering, and Sister Corporeal Death. It has been translated into many languages, was the basis for dramatic and also cinematic works, and has been set to music, as in the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and pieces by composers Franz Liszt, Paul Hindemith, and Carl Orff.

This invitingly tactile 1992 publication, a contrast of carefully set type and broad gestural strokes, offers references to many cultures from many times. The book emanated from Sol Invictus Press in New York, a partnership of Myriam Sanchez-Posada de Arteni (b. 1947), the Colombian-born Senior Exhibition Conservator at the New York Public Library, and master calligrapher Stefan C. Arteni (born in Bucharest, 1948). Sol Invictus is from the Latin “Unconquered Sun.” The artists of Sol Invictus “intend to revive the tradition of the Scriptorium: word and image should again be treasured, read, reread, looked at and meditated upon. We look for a perfect marriage of paper, image and typeface.”

Laudes Creaturarum was designed and printed by Myriam in Italian Old Style (designed by Frederic Goudy in 1924), basing page layouts on the Golden Section. Calligraphic symbols were brushed on each of the twenty-six copies by Stefan using Sumi ink, with red signature impressions made from stone seals he carved. The symbols include the Chrismon (which also represents the wheel of life), the ichthys, alpha, a circle surrounding characters that translate to “the one who is,” the sun, the moon, a sailboat demonstrating the force of the wind, water as displayed in this exhibition, fire, a mountain, the tree of life, death, bread, and omega. The various handmade papers were by Mirma Zarte in Bogotá using fibers of the coffee, cotton, palm chingale, loofah, plantain, pineapple leaf, African palm, juncus, sisal, daphne, cattail, Palm de los Llamos, sansevieria, rush, ipaca, and formio.

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Laudes Creaturarum