2011 was a big year for Digital Humanities, but we also saw the loss of Father Roberto Busa (1913-2011), who pioneered the discipline of Humanities Computing by organising the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Index Thomisticus.
I’ve been given permission to share with you the image above, and the story below, about Father Busa’s last Christmas card. It came through on email last week and made me well up – and I asked permission from Marco Passarotti (on behalf of the CIRCSE research centre)to share it here so it reached the wider Digital Humanities community. Enjoy the last Christmas card from Father Busa.
Dear friends of father Busa,
For many years, our beloved father Roberto Busa entrusted the painter and caricaturist Marina Molino to illustrate his message of Christmas greetings with a caricature representing him along with St. Thomas.
Over the last years, the drawing (each time suggested by father Busa himself) had one recurring element: father Busa climbing a mountain with increasing difficulty, but with undiminished enthusiasm towards the ultimate goal, where St. Thomas was waiting for him.
On August 9th father Busa has reached that goal, giving, until his last day, large and clear testimony of peace on the ground of his faith and certainty of eternal life.
The research center CIRCSE – which pursues the work of its founder – has asked Marina Molino to realize once again the traditional drawing. In a moving caricature, the artist has represented father Busa, finally come on top of the mountain, while meeting his St. Thomas. We send you the drawing as a nice memory of father Busa, with our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all who have loved him.
With best wishes,
(on behalf of CIRCSE)
Head of the ‘Index Thomisticus’ Treebank
Secretary of CIRCSE
Largo Gemelli, 1
20123 – Milan
Marco tells me they are planning to publish a book in 2012 which collates all of Father Busa’s Christmas Cards. I look forward to seeing it.
One thought on “Father Busa’s Last Christmas Card”
The Index Thomisticus is a superb research tool, perhaps not known to most users of this blog, and Thomas himself is probably better than Isidore as a patron for you all: his prodigious range (he lectured on most of the works of Aristotle,including the scientific works, and his commentaries required new attitudes to page layout and information retrieval.) So next time you are wondering what to do, google Aquinas and check that those Middle Ages were not quite as backward as they told you in Horrible history.
(Thomas, of course, did believe in heresy and the proper punishment for heretics, but also in reason.)