“Today we celebrate a gift from the Italian people to the American people; the remarkable book, ‘Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano.'
“The publication of this book has stirred interest around the world. Illuminating the life and art of Michelangelo, this book is art in and of itself. It includes a scale bas-relief in marble of the ‘Madonna della Scala' and reproductions of Michelangelo drawings on handmade folios.
“With only 33 copies in existence in the entire world, we are privileged that one will be housed here in the Library of Congress.
“In the spirit of American and Italian democracy, this book will be accessible to anyone with a Library of Congress reader's card.
“In the Rare Book and Special Collection Division, this book will join Thomas Jefferson's library…the Guttenberg Bible…the first printing of the Declaration of Independence. It will share shelves with a collection of 112 versions of the Italian constitution, dating back to 1796.
“It is appropriate that this Italian book will join a library that has a special emphasis on the history of American people and culture. That is because the history of America and the history of Italy are forever intertwined. Today, there are nearly 20 million Italian Americans who serve as links between our two nations.
“Every wave of immigrants that have come to these shores have made America more American.
“I am reminded of the contributions of Italian Americans daily in the beauty of the art that adorns the United States Capitol - it is the work of Constantino Brumidi, the Michelangelo of his time.
“Fleeing Italy in 1849 - a time of great repression and unrest in Rome - Brumidi brought his enormous artistic talents and creativity to the United States. For more than 20 years, he worked to fill the Capitol with his timeless images of the history of our democracy and the hopes of the American people.
“Brumidi once sad, ‘My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.'
“How proud Brumidi would be to see us here today - the democratically elected leaders of the country of his birth and the country he adopted - celebrating the friendship between our nations.
“Some will note that this book comes with a guarantee for 500 years. But the friendship between the United States and Italy is guaranteed for even longer.
“And that friendship will continue to flourish under the leadership of President Gianfranco Fini.
“President Fini is a leader of values and ethics. He has worked on behalf of the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and for human rights and democracy around the world.”