Codex Honors St. Paul, Furthers Ecumenism

Only 998 Copies to Be Created

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ROME, JAN. 11, 2010 ( A 424-page “Codex Pauli” dedicated to Benedict XVI is honoring the Apostle to the Gentiles with illustrations and writings in the spirit of the ancient monastic codices.

The work will be presented in Rome on Wednesday, in preparation for the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Only 998 copies of the volume will be created.

A special font, called “Paulus 2008,” was designed for the work. The font mirrors the handwriting of the scribe who copied the 9th century Carolingian Bible.
The “Codex Pauli” includes original contributions from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I; Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow; Gregorios III Laham, patriarch of Antioch for the Greek Melkite Church; and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The book’s first part, “Annus Pauli,” considers the year dedicated to the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle’s birth. There are reflections by Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, Ennio Antonelli, Raffaele Martino, Jean-Louis Tauran, Jozef Tomko, Antonio Rouco Varela, André Vingt-Trois and Walter Kasper.
The second part, “Roma Pauli,” is a look at the spiritual, liturgical and artistic tradition of the Benedictine monks who for three centuries have been the caretakers of the sepulcher of St. Paul in Rome.
“Evangelium Pauli,” the book’s third part, presents the figure and message of the great Apostle in dialogue with the cultures and sensibilities of our time. Cardinal Kasper considers the figure of St. Paul between East and West; and other scholars reflect on St. Paul’s relation to Europe’s Christian roots, Judaism and Islam.

Other reflections look at St. Paul as cosmopolitan, traveler, missionary, apostle and model of interreligious dialogue.
The next part, “Vita Pauli,” focuses on the identity of Saul/Paul after 2,000 years of interpretation, exaltation, aversion and instrumentalization.
The texts of Paul’s 13 epistles, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letter to the Hebrews and a selection of little-known apocryphal works about St. Paul or attributed to him make up the final section. Each of these texts begins with an exegetical presentation and concludes with a page of “lectio divina,” following the ancient monastic practice.

According to Abbot Edmund Power, the leader of the Benedictine Community of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the codex is both a tribute to St. Paul and an invitation to approach God.

“[Paul is] a man who knows how to be ironic, even sarcastic, and yet there is always an affectionate, inspired, majestic element that makes us see in him a man ‘obsessed with Christ,'” Abbot Power reflected. “Thus the ‘Codex Pauli’ is also a magma of human creativity from which beauty and love flow.
“According to the monastic tradition, art is the effort to incarnate an interior vision, an attempt to express a Beauty that is inexpressible in itself. Not everyone succeeds in being able to clearly perceive it: This is why every work of art tries to move those who contemplate it to turn toward the one God, who is the source of all beauty.
“Those who seek and love beauty through the language of art are moving toward the Divine. This work proposes the same goal.”

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