First International Conference on John Bradburne (1921-1979): Mystic Poet and Martyr
Venue: University for Foreigners of Perugia, Aula Magna, Thursday, March 30, 2017
This conference is a tribute to a neglected poet and Franciscan martyr. It is a privilege to host it in Umbria. John Bradburne wrote many poems inspired by Umbria and Saint Francis, and one of the reasons for his strong African ‘sense of place’ was that the hills of Zimbabwe reminded him of the Apennine and the Assisi The influence of Franciscan poetics and a theology of militant love, as well as a mystical wedding to Our Lady is recurrent in his themes. He is now recognized as the most prolific poet in the history of Anglophone literature having written twice as much verse as Shakespeare. French historian Didier Rance has translated his poems into French. An online corpus of his John Bradburne’s poems has been compiled and edited by the British linguistics author and reference-book editor David Crystal.
John Bradburne, FTO (Franciscan Third Order) was born into an English ecclesiastical family. After heroic war-time service (Military Cross) with Gurkhan Indian Army in Malay and Burma, and miraculous survival in the jungle, he entered the Catholic Church. He studied theology in Louvain where he was a novitiate (1950-52). In the 1950s, he embarked on spiritual journeys through France and Greece. His pilgrimage to the Holy Land took him through Italy twice: to Umbria and Campania, where he lived for one year. He spent the last ten years of his life in a leprosy settlement in Rhodesia . During the Rhodesian civil war, he refused to leave his lepers; after being abducted and tortured, he was tried by the guerrillas and released, only to be shot. At the moment of his passing away and at his Requiem Mass in the Cathedral of Salisbury, inexplicable events occurred.