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The art of the loom and meditation

 L’arte del telaio  e la meditazione  DCM-004
06 April 2024

“Weaving first and foremost puts us in a state of listening, makes us receptive, open to welcoming our inner movements. In the metaphor of threads, we can intertwine bonds, stories, share joys and difficulties... all elements that I carry within me during prayer”: following the thread of a Word, the inspiration of a ray of light, the silence of the night, the memory of an encounter, Patrizia Bagni weaves her tapestries. She uses balls of different colors and consistencies, red, orange, blue, raffia, wool, silk, rope, copper threads, and old tights, an avocado seed, a tea bag. And then simple wooden boards to serve as a frame. She is a Camaldolese nun, living in the monastery of Poppi, in Tuscany. More than twenty years ago, she discovered the ancient art of the loom, reinterpreted as an aid to meditation. “It is the thread that guides me: I start from an idea, a feeling that I want to express, but then it continues on its own, it is a space of freedom”. She does not like figurative works, but with transparencies and colors, she tells what she has “ruminated”: “As in the monastic tradition, 'ruminatio' is indeed on the Word of God, but the life of others can also become a mantra, because everything is in the presence of God.”

Weaving does not have defined times, nor does it require any particular discipline: “It is not continuous work, sometimes there are months when one must detach from the work”, other times when one runs fast, due to the urgency to “write” what is stirring inside. Is it a “feminine” prayer? “I cannot say and I do not know if these are feminine characteristics, certainly most of the time in my weaving classes there are women. I have also had male weavers ... who are generally more schematic and less ‘soft’ in their lines”.

The meditative practice of weaving was invented by another woman, Katharina Shuppli, a Swiss Protestant and friend of the monastic community of Camaldoli. “She told me that I had to learn to inhabit my dark spaces, because tapestry lays bare the inner reality, it is also an introspective work. Like lectio divina, it questions us about what we wish to express. It is a process of transformation”.

It all started as a personal meditation practice, then the nun found herself making her art “public” during a fair in Bibbiena. For the women's festival in the village, an exhibition of ancient women's crafts was organized, and a contribution was requested from the monastery. She proposed her tapestries. “From that moment on, I started selling them and teaching, holding courses”.

Thus, the tapestries displayed on the altar of Saint Joseph in Jesi and in the parish of Casinalbo in Modena came into being. In addition, the small tapestry in red and white golden thread donated to Pope Francis when he visited the Camaldolese nuns at Sant’Antonio, in Rome, on November 21, 2013.

by Vittoria Prisciandaro
Journalist with «Credere » and «Jesus»  Periodici San Paolo