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Event Details

Wed, February 15, 2017

18:00 – 19:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italy

A book presentation by the author Terence Ward.

Tucked in a small church in Naples hangs one of the wonders of Italian art. This altarpiece by the painter Caravaggio offers a radical and fresh take on human solidarity, the cornerstone of every faith. The unusual true story told in this book unfolds through the eyes of Angelo, who guards the painting as if it were his own. The Seven Acts of Mercy was created four hundred years ago while Caravaggio was fleeing his murder conviction and the dreaded Papal police. It carries a visionary message.

Brimming with suspense, color and contrast, the narrative follows the painter through a succession of offerings: food for the hungry, water to the thirsty, a roof for those without, clothes for the naked, care for the sick and for those behind bars, and burial for the dead.

Ward’s personal journey merges with history, memoir, and journalism. With great ease, he moves through the vertical social layers of Naples, past and present, from the most exclusive aristocratic circles to the gritty, crime-ridden quarters of the guardian’s world. The arc of this dual narrative—the artist as he feverishly paints his vision, and the guardian’s bruised life as it breaks out of darkness into light—transports the reader on a path from estrangement to grace

Museum Meetings is a cycle of conversations in art spaces dedicated to various aspects of art and museums in Florence: collecting, display, art techniques, iconography, conservation, and the role of museums in society today. The program originates from the Acton collection and expands to other art spaces in the city.

Featured Biographies

Terence Ward


After he obtained the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance in Geneva, he served in the UN Mission to East Timor as an electoral officer during the referendum for independence in 1999. Later, he collaborated with the Burma Project (Open Society Foundations) on a special mission to Myanmar. Later, he lectured on conflict zones of Moluccas, East Timor, and Iran for IDHA programs in both Geneva and New York.

His first book, Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran, is a literary chronicle of his odyssey back to Iran after 30 years (Houghton Mifflin, Anchor Books). Translated into Italian, French, German and Indonesian, it was also published in two different Persian editions (Ketabsara Tandis and Jayhoon). Currently, Boshra Film in Tehran is producing a feature film adapted from his book. It will be the first Iranian American co-production to be shot in Iran since the Revolution.

He has appeared on BBC, the Charlie Rose Show, NBC, NPR, C-SPAN, RAI-TV and toured America and Canada, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia discussing the Middle East and contemporary Iran. His writings have appeared inthe Huffington Post, the Italian Ecologist, Il Manifesto, Airone, Governo delle Cose, Reset, Icarus, and Conde Nast Traveler. His views on the Sunni-Shiite conflict have been cited in the International New York Times. The AT Kearny Global Policy Counciland the Trilateral Commission have also invited his contributions for papers on the Middle East. In San Francisco, the Persian Center of Northern California presented him with their Global Recognition Award for “promoting peace through cultural awareness.” In Los Angeles, the Iranian Muslim Association of North America also honored him for “enhancing knowledge of Iranian culture”.

In film, he produced the award-winning documentary Black Africa White Marble inspired by the humanist Italian explorer, Pietro Savorgnan di Brazza after whom the capital of Brazzaville in Congo is named.    It won the Grand Prix at the Festival of Annecy, France (2012), the Audience Award at the Cambridge Film Festival, UK (2013), and Best Documentary at the Berlin Independent Film Festival (2014). He also produced Archaeology of a Woman (2014), a feature film starring Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland, as well as the most recent documentary Talk Radio Tehran (2015) by Mahtab Mansour that follows courageous Iranian women who fulfill their aspirations in spite of the gender-apartheid system that dominates their daily lives in Teheran.

His new book, The Guardian of Mercy: How an Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio Changed an Ordinary Life Today, was released in February 2016 (Arcade Publishing, New York).

Terence serves as an international trustee of Religions for Peace—the world’s largest inter-faith organization—based in New York.  He also serves on the advisory boards of The Markaz, a LA-based cultural center that embraces all Middle Eastern cultures, and La Scuola di Eco-Narrativa in Anghiari, Tuscany. With his wife, Idanna Pucci, he lives in Florence and New York.