The new green area with plants donated by the Fondazione Giorgio Tesi, in collaboration with the Friends of Lourdes Association, inaugurated with 100 pilgrims from Pistoia whose delegation included Monsignor Fausto Tardelli, the city’s bishop; Mario Tuci, the Pistoia town councilor who brought greetings on behalf of the entire town council; and Fabrizio Tesi, Foundation president.


"A beautiful and moving experience. For years the company has carried out initiatives like this because we are convinced that this is the best way to bring Pistoia and our values to the world. We were moved by this experience in Lourdes, however, because it was an honor for me and my family to leave a memento of my uncle Giorgio and the plants that we produce in this location." These were the remarks of Fabrizio Tesi, president of the non-profit Giorgio Tesi Foundation, on the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on 22-23 June, promoted by the Tesi foundation and by the Friends of Lourdes Association.

"A lasting memory of the spirit and the work of the many men and women of Pistoia who made this project possible," said Mons. Fausto Tardelli, the bishop of Pistoia. Accompanying him on the pilgrimage were the Vicar General Fr. Paolo Palazzi and the priests Fathers Piergiorgio Baronti and Luciano Tempestini. Pistoia’s faithful (identifiable in the photographs by their yellow raincoats with the logos of both associations), eagerly took part in the trip to admire the recent renovations at the Shrine, accompanied by the dignitaries of this French city and by the head of the religious complex.

"We came to Lourdes in mourning for Luciano, the founder of Pistoia’s Friends of Lourdes Association who is no longer with us but our hearts were filled with joy for having once again put down roots in French soil,” said Marco Baldi, deacon and representative of the Friends of Lourdes Association. “Respecting Luciano’s wishes, we will continue out commitment to bring still more pilgrims to the Grotto, to this blessed land that we feel is ours."

Taking place over Monday and Tuesday, the trip was successfully organized by the two associations with a long and well-established relationship: the Friends of Lourdes, founded by Luciano Bani, deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary and who died in June of last year, and the Giorgio Tesi Foundation, created to remember the human values and Christian spirit of Giorgio Tesi. A plaque was dedicated to the memories of Luciano Bani and Giorgio Tesi in the Shade Garden that precedes the entrance to the Grotto of the Apparitions. During the winter, the green area was set up and refurbished with thirty ash trees donated by the nursery company. The trees will offer a welcome respite to all pilgrims visiting the shrine. These beautiful plants have taken root, creating a real park that follows along the route towards the grotto, accompanied by the river on one side and the rock face dominated by the Basilica on the other. As a result, it was a profound experience for the worshippers who participated in a candlelight vigil and the Holy Mass at the Grotto of Our Lady concelebrated by Mons. Fausto Tardelli and Father Nicola Gizzi, the chaplain of Lourdes, in addition to the inauguration of the plaque in memory of Bani and Tesi.


Remarks by Mario Tuci, the City of Pistoia’s town councilor for the environment, on the ash trees donated to the shrine at Lourdes

The bond that, for some time, has bound Pistoia to Lourdes has been strengthened. The Fondazione Giorgio Tesi’s donation of 32 ash trees to this shrine, visited by millions of pilgrims each year has indeed made the spiritual closeness manifested over the years more concrete and tangible. It is also now documented in the Shrine’s library, where some writings attest to the heartfelt work of the Friends of Lourdes, the association founded by Luciano Bani, one of the first deacons of the Diocese of Pistoia.

These trees are a symbol of dialogue and openness, and of the process of growth to which every man is called to make during his lifetime. They will create a shaded area to provide those traveling to the grotto of Massabielle with a brief respite. Traces of Pistoia, its history and its Christian faith will remain imprinted in French soil thanks also to the plaque unveiled yesterday, Tuesday, near the sanctuary which recalls two of our fellow citizens of Pistoia who left an indelible mark and whose lives were animated by a strong devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes: namely, Luciano Bani and Giorgio Tesi.

I feel personally honored at having had the opportunity to once again return to Lourdes, where I have already been in the past. The connection and emotion transmitted by this place of faith is always moves me in such a way that my spirituality is renewed each time. It is a pilgrimage that holds always new emotions, and on which prayer prevails over everything, over daily difficulties, over everyday life, and over distractions

On behalf of the city council and our city, I would like to thank the Fondazione Giorgio Tesi for this gesture that once again has shown the generosity and openness of our area, which will be expressed in the growth of these ash trees along the footpath leading to the grotto.