Bullet shells' message of peace

Monks at the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Italy put a figure of baby Jesus on a crib made of bullet shells in a yearly "provocation" nativity scene designed to draw attention to those suffering in the world.

The Franciscan monks said the bed of 445 bullet shells honours the estimated 445 Roman Catholic priests, nuns, monks and religious teachers killed for their faith around the world since 2000.

"People of peace, people of dialogue are killed, tortured and massacred for peace because they want to change the unjust systems in many societies," said Father Enzo Fortunato, a senior monk at the basilica and convent complex.

The successors of St Francis of Assisi, who invented the nativity scene, craft a different scene each year outside the basilica in the hill city of Assisi, the burial place of the 13th century patron saint of peace and the environment.

Last year they made the scene using stones from the Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia, also in the Umbria region, which had collapsed after a series of earthquakes that killed about 300 people.

The year before that they had made it from the remains of a boat that had carried migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean. REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2017, with the headline 'Bullet shells' message of peace'. Print Edition | Subscribe