Living Stones is an international communion of Christian youth communities which aims to announce Jesus Christ – that is, the Beauty of the Church – through the beauty of sacred and religious heritage.

The Living Stones communities have a distinctive style that gives priority to prayer, intense community life, theological and art-historical formation, simplicity, service, the attention to marginalised people and complete gratuity.

Four groups of volunteers (Europeans and Americans) took care of most of the summer in the 'Living Stones' camp in Amsterdam. The location was the Jesuit church 'Krijtberg', in the most touristic area of the city. The 'mission in Amsterdam' is one of six international summer projects of Living Stones in 2023 (along with Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Berlin, Santiago). But “doing Living Stones” in Amsterdam is ... “a little” different. First of all because of the unusual sociology of the visitors welcomed by the volunteers: many Muslims explicitly intrigued by the figure of Christ, many couples who come to the various lgbtq+ initiatives the city offers, many Dutch people who have never heard of anything like the Christian faith existing, a large number of Israeli tourists, and many 19-year-olds from all over Europe who make Amsterdam an obligatory stop on their backpacking trip across Europe.   This summer evangelising experience in Amsterdam is also unique because it relies on the year-round presence of the residential community 'Living Stones'. In a house provided by the Dutch Jesuits, between 7 and 9 young adults from different countries combine formation and evangelisation within the 9 month period of community life. The first year of this 'pilot project' has just ended and a new group is being formed to start the second one in September. In its hardships and surprises, this sort of "lay novitiate" for Ignatian apostles has often had the flavour of the Acts of the Apostles. Indeed, the annual and summer service of Living Stones in Amsterdam allowed many volunteers to touch the roots of the proclamation of faith, with their own hands. Firstly, they discovered that the proclamation has an almost 'exorcistic' dimension. Young volunteers of Living Stones often find themselves being "vomited in the face" by many of the internal blocks and wounds that the visitor has accumulated for years against the Church, faith, or life. This venting is possible because 'finally' someone listens to them in the Church. The 'Living Stones' service, before being a kerygmatic explanation of the works of art in a church, is an activity of deep listening, of unconditional acceptance. But the great thing is that every volunteer has a sense of receiving "the very visitors they needed" everyday. So a period of summer service at Living Stones can be seen as a time of spiritual exercises. The hour of biblical meditation that opens the day is just a "preparatory prayer" for the many other words and thoughts that the volunteer will receive from the visitors and which they will recognise in the evening re-reading as "God's words to me". Finally, each visit led by a volunteer becomes a 'theological exercise': the tourists' questions and reactions force them to constantly reformulate their faith. Faith "received" from the Great Biblical and Sacramental Tradition present in art, re-read at each encounter in an "ancient and ever new" way. This is perhaps not far from what academic theology has long hoped for whenever it strives to connect more to prayer and proclamation. It is certainly an experience that frees the young believer from the fear of simply 'thinking the faith' and 'speaking the faith'.
Service and training camps in 3 countries.  “As Abraham or Moses or many others teach us, the life of each of us is a true pilgrimage, and the challenge that God offers us is to always set out but, even more, he gives us others: the gift of crossing, truly and intensely (even if only for a short time), the path of another man who, like you, is on a quest, is thirsty for life, has the same doubts and questions as you, is a priceless gift that enriches you, changes you profoundly and gives you the strength to set out again, backpack on your shoulders, toward the goal that is Him”: speaking is Saverio Gabrielli, coordinator of the Pietre Vive group in Rome. He participated in the service camp organized by Pietre Vive this summer in Santiago de Compostela (August 1-8).    Santiago: backpacking toward the destination  The summer camp in Santiago de Compostela, Saverio explains, is a service camp that consists of “welcoming pilgrims from all over the world and anyone who comes to Santiago and proclaiming the Gospel to them through free visits to the Cathedral, narrating the Beauty of faith through the Beauty of art and architecture. This year, specifically, Living Stones were involved in organizing and participating in the PEJ (European Youth Pilgrimage) event, which was held right in Santiago.”  An initial time was devoted to training and studying the history and artistic heritage of the city and the magnificent cathedral; and then devoting the remainder of the time to welcoming young pilgrims, together with four hundred other volunteers.  “This gave us the tools to get in touch with, meet and get to know the thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe (and beyond) who ended their journey there, filled with a strong experience and a great desire to tell the story of the walk and its meanings as told by the bas-reliefs in the church porticoes”.    Santiago was not the only summer experience. Other camps were held in Greece (9-17 July) and Amsterdam (17-24 July Round I, 24-31 July Round II). And each camp, or shift, was attended by around 25 young people from different countries in Europe.  Amsterdam: serving the Word  Some 20 young people from all over Europe gathered in Amsterdam from 17 to 31 July for an experience of formation, prayer and service. “For a few days, Pietre Vive were the welcoming face of their host Jesuit community. They kept the doors of De Krijtberg open and offered passers-by a word about the works of art in the church,’ says Caterina Bruno, coordinator of Pietre Vive in Naples. “We were struck by the light in the presbytery, filtered by the testimony of the saints portrayed in the stained glass windows. Someone stopped, and the visit became a dialogue between different confessions, many Muslims, Jews. The beauty of these encounters that let light through remains”.    Greece: bringing to fruition  Finally, the Pietre Vive camp in Greece aimed to study the link between classical culture and the origins of Christianity, through training lessons, individual study, group sharing and visits to significant archaeological sites. “An atmosphere of prayer, both personal and communal, punctuated the days, culminating with mass,” says Maria Velia Gianfelici, from Pietre Vive Bologna. “Beyond community relations, it was important for me to experience how Christianity came into contact with every human reality, even the pagan one, bringing it to fulfilment”.  ‘Pietre Vive’ is a communion of youth communities born to proclaim Jesus Christ, Beauty of the Church, to those who look upon the beauty of churches. Through welcome, prayer and free guided tours, the ‘Living Stones’ proclaim the Gospel as that ‘Invisible in the visible’ that art reveals. They experience the Christian sacred space as a place of encounter with God.  Jesuits EUM 
The Living Stones international meeting of coordinators resulted in the creation of a journey of spiritual and cultural formation for a deeper faith.  This formation journey and a series of podcasts are available online on the IVoox platform. The podcast series can be downloaded by everyone and will be used by the Living Stones groups throughout this year for biblical, theological and artistic formation. The first two episodes on biblical formation: "What is the Bible?" and "Is the Bible true?" are already online. The others will be published twice a week and will include history and theology formation themes as well as artistic formation. In each episode, lasting about 20 minutes, a professional in the subject, converses with a boy who asks questions, touches on some key points and recommends the necessary bibliography for further study. Each Living Stones group will be able to use this material for community and personal study and to interpret the spiritual message to the visitors of the church where it performs its service. The formation course, and the podcast series, were created during the last two Living Stones international meetings of coordinators and in particular during the meeting this autumn, which was held over the weekend of 30 October - 1 November.  This meeting was attended by the coordinators of 36 groups coming from Europe, the United States and Mexico; their aim was to build a journey of spiritual and cultural formation to go deeper into the faith. You can find the podcasts here.  
From July 23rd to August 1st, the Jesuit community in Amsterdam welcomed a group of young people from the ‘’Living Stones’’ community to the 'Krijtberg' church dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. The richness of the content and the artistic beauty of the church allowed the group to carry out its apostolic activity. Living Stones is a community of young people that was created out of the desire to announce the Gospel by offering free guided tours of places of Christian art. The service is carried out as a Christian community based on prayer inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The activity in Amsterdam was considered as a real-life Spiritual Exercise that begins with prayer and leads to prayer. The service always begins with waiting. The waiting time is meant to be a moment of petition for grace where the volunteer asks the Lord: “Lord, what do you want me to say to the person who is coming?” This moment of preparation for the visitor is followed by welcoming the visitor and giving the actual tour. At the end of each visit, the volunteer invited the tourist to stop in silence at a prayer corner that was especially set up for them. In this corner the tourist could rest in adoration of the eucharist accompanied by the voice of a Living Stone singing. The volunteer himself reflected on the experience asking the Lord, "Lord, what did you say to me through this person?’’. He also prayed for the person who was entrusted to him for that short time by handing them back to the Lord. We are very grateful to this time in Amsterdam where we experienced how the heart of this city – very much like the heart of every man – has a deep desire for beauty that needs to be nourished. We also experienced how the encounter with beauty moves one's heart to the point of childlike astonishment. By showing people beauty, we allowed people to return, even if just for a small moment, to their childhood. “If you do not convert and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven''. Rita Prota (Livingstones Rome) The "Pietre vive"/"Living stones" web site
Living Stones: the international formation project is being streamed online between 30 April and 2 May "Art, Violence and Religion", is the theme of the international formation program for young people who form part of the Pietre Vive groups and their friends. This initiative, which was scheduled to take place in Malta from April 30 to May 2, has been adapted into an online version. The theme chosen for this year is about one of the foundation stones of the prayer journey and formation of the groups: a review of the images of violence found in the new and old testament: the killing of Cain, the offering of Isaac as a sacrifice and finishing with the Passion together with some Ignatian points for meditation. : The purpose being learning to transform violence. The introductory theme of the program on 30 April is "Community: our history of violence". This is a “focal” point which highlights our experience during those visits when we come face to face with images of violence, the way we translate them and the spiritual message that underlies these images, Valentina Cammorota,  Living Stones’ communication person explains. .About twenty short presentations, illustrating works from different places will be offered by the different groups, The theme on May 1st will be "Formation: understanding the expression of violence". Seven lectures will be given by university lecturers who are  History and Scripture experts to seven small groups: these lectures range from Byzantine iconoclasm to Chilean Catholic art which is a form of peaceful protest against the Pinochet dictatorship, the ambivalence of violence, the shift between destruction and creation in the Bible and the architectural transition from the sacred enclosure to the fortress. Christian and Islamic iconoclasm and disobedience leading to violence will be the themes of the other lectures. A moment of sharing in small groups and of communal prayer will follow. The theme of the final lecture on Saturday is, "Prayer: a means of reconciliation and transformation of violence" with a tour on-line of the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Malta, which houses the painting of Caravaggio's beheading and finishing off  with a communal moment of prayer. The program, which up to the now has had 100 registrations, was organized by the Pietre Vive Malta group and by those responsible for the international network. The Easter triduum was also celebrated online, with the participation of around 70 young people. Programs and further information on this initiative can be found on the Pietre Vive website or by sending an email to
As Living Stones we are used to offering guided tours especially in old basilicas and baroque churches. The traditional sacral art is well known to us. And although we are interested in art, some Living Stones have not yet gone into more detail about modern and contemporary art. Therefore, it has long been a wish of Living Stones to devote itself especially to this young art at an international education camp. The theme "Faith and Modern Art" also fitted in well with the venue, Zurich, as the city, and Switzerland in general, is regarded as an important hub of today's art world. More than 120 young adults from more than 15 countries gathered at the Liebfrauen parish centre in the heart of Zurich from 2-5 May 2019. Especially pleasing was the participation of two Living Stones from Chicago and Kiev, where new groups are being formed. And also for new interested people from Switzerland it was a good opportunity to get to know Living Stones better. The participants were able to experience a varied program with lectures, workshops, exchange rounds, visits to different art spaces and churches, common prayer times and Eucharistic celebrations. An older participant from Luxembourg, who wanted to get to know Living Stones with the educational camp, was positively surprised at how much was demanded of the young people and that despite the dense programme and the challenging lectures, the participants took part with keen interest and commitment. The group grew together while talking and eating, listening and praying. Perhaps it was also because of the limited space in the parish centre that the familiarity among the young people grew quickly. The good food, prepared by six volunteers who came from Italy, also contributed to the good atmosphere. The modest shower and sleeping facilities with floor mat and sleeping bag did not detract from the good atmosphere. The encounter among each other and the growing as a community beyond the cultural and national borders marked the meeting in a special way. Further encounters with the local church were made possible by the accommodation in host families. Some participants were able to experience a welcoming local congregation. The presence of church leaders was also appreciated. The Eucharist was celebrated with us by the National Delegate for Youth Pastoral Care, Bishop Alain de Raemy, the Vicar General of the diocese region Zurich-Glarus, Josef Annen, and the Dean of the City of Zurich, Marcel von Holzen. The meeting with the Reformed pastor Christoph Sigrist was also impressive. On the basis of a guided tour of the Grossmünster church, he brought us closer to his understanding of being a Christian, which he summed up with the slogan of the Zurich reformer Ulrich Zwingli "Do something brave for God's sake". This visit was rounded off with participation in the weekly Taizé prayer in Grossmünster. "The wound"   The theme of the "wound", which Prof. Andrea dell'Asta SJ impressively demonstrated in his lecture by means of many paintings, was a thread running through the entire educational camp.  Beginning with depictions of the wounds of Christ up to the "Zip" works of Barnett Newman and the cut canvases of Lucio Fontana, the "wound" is a recurring motif in the iconography of the western world, and a basic human experience. From a Christian point of view, according to dall'Asta, wounds do not only stand for life fractures and pain, but also for an opening and a passage to a beyond, the absolute. Further highlights were the lecture by Prof. Guido Vergauwen, who philosophically approached modern ways of thinking and pleaded for a new open knowledge, and the lectures by Prof. Bert Daelemens SJ and Prof. Eloi Aran Sala, who presented new reflections and developments in church architecture. These conferences will soon be available on Living Stones' Youtube channel. ( Workshops An intensive experience were also the encounters in workshops with the artists Robert Dolinar SJ, artist and architect from Slovenia, Patrick Rimoux, light artist from Paris, and Enrique Veganzones, painter from Spain, who made a direct exchange possible on the basis of concrete works of art. The performance "ballarefidei" in the Pfarreisaal Liebfrauen by one dancer and two dancers from the Zurich Opera Ballet also set a special accent. With their expressive dance, they "drew" with their bodies - very close to the wound theme - the inner conflict of man, who finally finds peace in faith. Many participants were motivated by the positive experience of the educational camp to participate in one of the week-long summer camps of Living Stones in different places in Europe or in the international spiritual retreats on the Simplon Pass. Contacts could also be made which give hope that a Living Stones group could soon be founded in Lausanne. And after first explorations it is quite possible that the next international education camp will take place in Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019.