A Banner Month for Painter-Poet Miguel Loredo

Roy Gasnick, OFM Friar News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — December was a rewarding month for Miguel Loredo, OFM. A collection of his poems and artwork was published, an exhibition of his paintings opened in Miami, Fla., and he was the subject of a lengthy interview in The Miami Herald. 

On Dec. 1, CubaOcho Art and Research Center in Miami, published an elegant limited edition of Miguel’s collection of poems and artwork, Twelve Brief Love Songs/Dolce Breves Canciones De Amor. Limited to 150 copies, each is signed by author Miguel and sells for $150.

Presenting Poetry and Art
The book contains 12 of Miguel’s poems in both Spanish and English together with 12 corresponding lithographs each printed on separate folios. All 12 folios are placed in solid cedar-wood boxes with covers handsomely-adorned with the title, author and other publishing information would normally be placed on the cover of an ordinarily-bound book. Following is a sample poem:

What are you doing here after the innocent years in 
the Island
After the combats and academic triumphs in 
What are you doing here
Dwelling in me.I pray:
Almighty God protect you from the bad side of my life
And lead you to everlasting safety

Dec. 1 also marked the opening of an exhibition of 22 of Miguel’s paintings, three watercolors and 19 oil paintings. The CubaOcho Art and Research Center also sponsored this exhibit which ran until Jan. 15. Miguel, who lives at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, was present for the opening of the exhibit, as well as for the publication of his book. He remained for a week to greet those who came to view his art works and to discuss with them his art and poetry.

During that week, Elena Iglesias of The Miami Herald, interviewed Miguel for the Spanish edition of the newspaper. Her feature story, “Miguel Loredo: franciscano, pintor y poeta” appeared in Revista Aplausos, the magazine section of the Dec. 10 issue of the Spanish edition of the Herald. 

Depicting Franciscan Love
“I’m more painter than priest; if I don’t paint, I’ll die,” says Miguel in the opening sentence of the article, indicating how much his art is essential to his very life being. The article traces the development both of his early life as an artist and poet as well as his life in Cuba and his well-known political imprisonment for 10 years by Fidel Castro for being “accused of being a terrorist for the CIA.” 

In prison, he began to write poetry in earnest, eventually publishing three books of poetry, Despues del Silencio, De la necesidad y del amor and Uno. The drive for creating art also persisted powerfully while he was incarcerated. “In prison, he would paint using coffee and when he did not have brushes, he used his hands,” Iglesias reports.

In explaining why a Franciscan priest is writing love songs, Miguel, who joined the Order in 1960, says in the article, “The Greeks used to divide love into brotherly love (philia), sensual love (eros) and abundant love (agape). My poems share in the three loves, but agape predominates. It is a love of self-giving which is incapable of harming a loved one. 

St. Francis loved everything, even harmful beings. Franciscan love does not want to possess. It loves a person and lets the person go. That is my attitude as a priest, as a Franciscan and as a human being.”

“Franciscan, painter and poet” is a refreshing face to present to the world of 2010.

— Fr. Roy, a resident and staff member of St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, is a regular contributor to this newsletter.