Canticum Solis
16.5 x 26 inches
Binding: Single sheets sewn with linen thread, then covered with wooden decoration
Medium: Inkjet on Somerset Book Wove paper
Edition: 11

In February, 2007, during a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bonnie Hardwick provided a personal tour of the St. Francis Cathedral. Christian iconography is one of Bonnie’s many areas of expertise. Listening to her stories as we wandered through the sanctuary and the chapels, the light streamed from the stained glass windows and seemed to attach itself to the walls, the floors, and the wooden pews. One almost had the feeling that it was necessary to step over the splashes of color as you would puddles of water. Images of these reflections of 19th century French windows appear on each page of this book. The picture on the colophon page gives a sense of the luxurious colors that bathed the church that day.

The version of Canticum Solis used in my own interpreted translation is from the manuscript Assisi MS. 338 (fol 33) from around 1250 A.D., twenty-four years after the death of St. Francis in October 1226. Composed in Francis’ native Umbrian Italian dialect, the poet calls upon everything in nature to praise the source of creation. While the canticle in the manuscript contains nine stanzas with three distinct parts, only the seven original stanzas composed when Francis was ill at the monastery of San Damiano in the spring of 1225 are included here. The eighth stanza was composed later to assuage a feud between the Bishop and the magistrates of Assisi, while the ninth was written when the Saint realized that his death was near.

Two dissimilar fonts were used to distinguish the original Umbrian Italian text from the English translation: Clairvaux, designed by Herbert Maring after the blackletter of the White Monks of the Cistercian abbey of Clairvaux , France, was chosen for being close in appearance to the handwritten text of the original Assisi Ms. 338 (fol 33). Zapfino, designed by Hermann Zapf, was chosen for its free and lively imitation of beautiful handwriting. The text paper is Somerset Book Wove; the cover paper is made by Arches. The entire book was printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 inkjet printer. The single sheets were sewn together with waxed linen thread that was subsequently hidden by wooden decorations stained with a chestnut dye extracted in rainwater that was concocted by Denise Carbone.

Title page
Stanza 1
Stanza 2
Stanza 3
Stanza 4
Stanza 5
Stanza 6
Stanza 7
Open to Stanza 7
Return to Books menu