Following in Father Michele Piccirillo’s footsteps

Giacomo Pizzi30 September 2010

A journey between Jordan, Palestine and Israel to remember Father Michele Piccirillo, famous biblicist and archaeologist of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of the Custody of the Holy Land, recently passed away: “Following in Father Michele Piccirillo’s footsteps”.

The Municipality of Montevarchi, two years after Father Michele Piccirillo’s demise, wants to remember him by organising a journey “following in his footsteps”, in cooperation with the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem itself and ATS pro Terra Sancta, the NGO of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Father Michele became famous worldwide especially through his archaeological activities,  mainly connected to the excavations on Mount Nebo in Jordan. His life, which came to its end on the 26th October 2008, was a continuous commitment to historical and archaeological research, so that he became a reference for all the experts of the Holy Land. He was the heir of the Franciscan tradition in palestinology, marked by the great figures of Father Bellarmino Bagatti and Father Virgilio Corbo. Through modern popular tools, he presented the world with both the problems connected with his research, carried out in the tormented Israeli-Palestinian territories, and his archaeological campaigns, which always gave results so fundamental that they gathered around him a number of enthusiastic collaborators, among both the young and the professionals. He opened restoration centres in Jericho and in Madaba and obtained the financial support of the institutions for funding his research. He would talk easily with both politicians and desert bedouins. Through the collaboration with a number of publishing houses such as San Paolo, Jaca Book, Velar, Edizioni Dehoniane, he left a very rich legacy, through his many works and accounts. His works are just as many as his excavations.

For Montevarchi, Father Michele was not only the “great” archeologist of the Holy Land: he was a friend of the entire community. With his friendship and affection, he fostered and supported the twinning between Montevarchi, Pratovecchio and Bethlehem.

The Mayor, Mr. Giorgio Valentini, said about Father Michele: “The man of stones and faith; his demise will help us promote even further the values of peace and solidarity among the peoples and to pursue the commitments undertaken with our city-twinning”.