Mozambican Artists Present Works of Peace to John Paul II

10th Anniversary of End of Civil War

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2002 ( A chair and a hoe made by Mozambican artists from weapons of war are featured on the front page of today’s Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

The two items were given as gifts to John Paul II at the end of the general audience Wednesday, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the end of the civil war in that African country.

“These ‘arms’ are now taken up by the silent ‘army of prayer’ that desires peace, that believes in peace,” the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper says.

The Pope blessed the two items, and told the Mozambican artists in Portuguese that the meeting gave him the opportunity “to embrace again the heart of that beloved people, whose destiny I entrust to the Virgin Mother, so that their free and fraternal hands will be dedicated to the construction of the nation.”

The artists are part of Maputo’s “Art Nucleus.” They obtained permission to use war materiel and transform it into art objects that express peace. The Mozambican Christian Council, an ecumenical organization, supported the initiative.

The artists’ work is being exhibited at the Villa Piccolomini in Rome from Oct. 1-6. Some of the objects — dolls, musical instruments, chairs — were once guns, Kalashnikov chambers, or handfuls of bullets.

The peace agreements between the Mozambican government and the armed opposition, which ended a 17-year war in 1992, were signed in Rome, thanks to the intervention of the United Nations; the Catholic Church in Mozambique, led by Archbishop Jaime Goncalves of Beira; and the Community of Sant’Egidio.

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