La Pira and the Council

 

 

Even in the early 1950s La Pira, Mayor of Florence, made mention of the Ecumenical Council that had taken place in that city in 1439 and was called, in fact, that of “the Union”. From this exceptional historical event La Pira went so far as to infer a mediatory role for Florence, acting through various initiatives promoted by him (Christian Conferences for Peace and Civilization,  Conference of the Mayors of the Capital Cities etc.) and labelled “Councils of the peoples and of the nations”, by means of which Florence became a city working for the cause of peace.

It is true that the agreement reached in that early Council was short lived, but for La Pira that act of Christian unity was “not over and done with, but a seed that has not yet born fruit. We need patience: no grain of wheat is lost in the earth and in God’s history”. This is why it was with immense joy that La Pira greeted John XXIII’s announcement of the convening of Vatican Council II. This is why he worked day in and day out for the success of this event, of such vast importance to the Church and to peoples the world over.

In his capacity as Mayor he wanted the people of Florence to be conscious and aware of this event, and to this end he promoted a number of conferences with speakers of international renown such as Féret, Danielou, Balducci and Congar, while at the same time writing letters to the citizens, to artists, to the young, to workers and to the parish priests . As he did also to the chief spiritual and political leaders the world over.

We can therefore understand how La Pira saw Vatican II as something akin to that first Council, and akin also to Pentecost itself.