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Vatican awards Yunus with the 'Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis'

  • Published at 10:52 pm September 4th, 2019
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File photo: Prof Muhammad Yunus Collected

Previous recipients include Pope John Paul II, Dalai Lama, Angela Markel and King Abdullah II of Jordan

The Vatican has honoured Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus with the ‘Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis’ award, which aims to honour those who work towards promoting peace and harmony. 

He was given the award on Tuesday at the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy, according to a press release issued by Yunus Centre. 

Prof Yunus was a guest in the Upper Basilica of San Francesco of Assisi (Umbria), where he held a Lectio Magistralis and received the Lamp of Peace award.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate gave a lecture on circular economy and microcredit. He also participated in the scientific teaching of Percorsi Assisi, the first inter-university school in economics, fostered by the Franciscan friars of the Sacred Convent and multiple higher education Italian institutes. 

This school is part of the path that will lead to “The Economy of Francesco”, a global summit promoted by Pope Francis that will be next year. 

The summit is directed at all young people, entrepreneurs and change makers to foster a new more just, fraternal and sustainable global economy.

In this same occasion, Prof Yunus received the Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis, a recognition that is conferred to political, cultural or civil society personalities who have distinguished themselves for their commitment in favouring peace, dialogue and union. 

The Lamp represents the simplicity of the Franciscan message: the lamp is made of glass to recall purity and the oil that burns inside is both a symbol of humility and of the desire of rebirth and social commitment. 

It is a replica of a glass oil lamp that burns at the side of the grave of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order behind the peace prize.

Father Enzo Fortunato, spokesperson and communication director of the Holy Convent of Papal Basilica of Assisi, representing Vatican, invited Prof Yunus on behalf of Pope Francis and made the award announcement earlier this year during the 9th Social Business Day at Bangkok, Thailand.

The Lamp of Peace was first presented in 1981 to Polish trade union leader Lech Walesa. Other recipients include Pope John Paull II, the Dalai Lama, Saint Teresa of Calcutta and former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. 

The last two winners of the award were Angela Merkel and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Father Mauro Gambetti, the master of the Holy Convent and the Papal Basilica of Assisi presented the award to Nobel laureate Yunus on behalf of the Vatican. The ceremony took place at the historical Papal Basilica of Assisi in the presence of senior officials of the Vatican, political leaders, rectors and professors from various universities in Rome and also included prominent social leaders and a big gathering of youth from all over Italy.

In his acceptance speech Professor Yunus elaborated his worries about three impending dangers which challenge the very existence of human beings on this planet beyond this century.  These include: extreme wealth concentration on an ongoing basis, rapid environmental degradation, and the rise of artificial intelligence.