Palermo (Italy). The pupils of the First Level Secondary School of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, S.M. Mazzarello of Palermo, from the Sicilian Province of Mother Maddalena Morano (ISI), created a mural on ecological themes starting from the Encyclical Laudato sì and the Italian Salesian Pastoral Proposal for the year 2020/21 “In the Heart of the World #LIVEthedream ”, which has as its theme the  dream of St. John Bosco at nine years of age.

Pupils actively participated to its realization from February to May 2021, led by Sr. Ermelinda Ardita, Province Coordinator for Communication of the FMA Institute of the ISI Province.

In the sector of the Service-Learning Project – a pedagogical method that combines community service and learning – on the 2021 theme “Laudato si’, mi Signore, cum tucte le creature tue“, the creation of the mural took place in three phases, the first two in online mode, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first phase, Sr. Ermelinda presented the painting technique of the mural to the students, and then proceeded with studying the design of the drawing. The preparatory phase was characterized by the study of environmental issues and sharing, strengthening the cooperation and cohesion of the group.

Once the final design was defined, in the second phase the students were involved in in-depth studies on the drafting of the color and on the management of the group project, following the subdivision of the work into parts, to assume the different roles in the approach to the practical phase. The phrase from the dream of the Shepherdess (1844) of St. John Bosco – “You will understand everything when with your material eyes you will actually see what you now see with the eyes of your mind” – created enthusiasm in the young artists to project themselves towards the anticipated result.

The third phase allowed the students to ‘get their hands dirty’ with colors and to see the drawing take shape on the white wall.

The mural begins with the “dream at 9 years of age”, with Johnny Bosco sleeping between the wolf and the lamb and continues with Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello who accompany the children to discover an eco-sustainable world. The planet embraced by children is an invitation to a culture in defense of the ecosystem, to care for creation, a gift from God.

The three buildings in green, blue, and yellow symbolically represent differentiated collection, in the direction of a sustainable change oriented towards the common good, as Pope Francis points out in the Encyclical: “Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.“(LS 18)

The pupils who took part in the creation of the mural, led by the Professor of Literature, Riccardo Talamo, recount the meaning of the experience lived in this time of pandemic:

The first chromatic effect that came to our mind is the blue of the sky. Thus, in the large mural that dominates the outdoor space in front of the soccer field, a cobalt background embraces the central theme of the representation: Creation.

In these mid-spring days, our School gave us the opportunity to paint and, under the patient and expert guidance of Sr. Ermelinda, we gave expression to our artistic vein. In the moments when the action of the brush fills the faces of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello with tempera, we think back to the months of the lockdown, the immobilization of Covid, and the desire for normality.

In the mural on the left we find the dream at nine years, several references to creation and its care and sustainability. Each of us focuses on a portion of the wall and, between a dripping brush and a little yellow on the shirt, we find the serenity of the best days and the smiling eyes of our companions. While we color, the morning passes quickly… as if it wanted to make up for lost time.

Every day, when we go down and check the margins of our work, we realize the progress made: the work of art takes shape. Jokingly boasting about which part came out better, we realize that only teamwork and the strength of the group make our actions effective and our lives special.

We are enchanted by the spectacle offered by the new perspective and we ask ourselves a question: are we the authors of this fantastic ‘painting’? A message jumps out of the images, placing in parallel the meaning of what we have done and the hope of the message it proposes: TOGETHER YOU CAN!”.



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