St. Francis in Ecstacy by Jusepe de Ribera (+1652AD)
How many wonderful stories fill the life of St. Francis, from his pilgrimage to Rome for the approval of his community, to his restoration of the Porziuncola, to his trip to Egypt to convert a Sultan, to his splendid canticle. Of course, two years before his death, St. Francis of Assisi, while praying on Mount Alvernia, miraculously received the wounds of Christ -- the Stigmata. The commemoration of this event, the Imprinting of the Stigmata of St. Francis, is a feast that falls on 17 September.
It is little wonder that nearly 800 years later, St. Francis remains such a beloved example of sanctity!
I would certainly recommend the work of G.K. Chesterton on St. Francis of Assisi! Below find a few sources that can give you more details than a brief blog post!
Catholic Saints Info: St. Francis of Assisi
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis of Assisi
Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Francis of Assisi
To put the thought and example of St. Francis into a little better focus, especially on matters liturgical, you might note this splendid passage:
"Epistola ad custodes
To all the custodians of the Friars Minor to whom this letter shall come, Brother Francis, your servant and little one in the Lord God, greetings with new signs of heaven and earth which are great and most excellent before God and are considered least of all by many religious and by other men.
I beg you more than if it were a question of myself that, when it is becoming and you will deem it convenient, you humbly beseech the clerics to venerate above all the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Name and written words which sanctify the body. They ought to hold the chalices, corporals, ornaments of the altar, and all that pertain to the Sacrifice as precious. And if the most holy Body of the Lord is left very poorly in any place, let It be moved by them to a precious place, according to the command of the Church and let It be carried with great veneration and administered to others with discretion. The Names also and written words of the Lord, In whatever unclean place they may be found, let them be collected, and then they must be put in a proper place. And in every time you preach,admonish the people about penance and that no one can be saved except he that receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. And whenever It is being sacrificed by the priest on the altar and It is being carried to any place, let all the people give praise, honor, and glory to the Lord God Living and True on their bended knees. And let His praise be announced and preached to all peoples so that at every hour and when the bells are rung praise and thanks shall always be given to the Almighty God by all the people through the whole earth.
And whoever of my brothers custodians shall receive this writing, let them copy it and keep it with them and cause it to be copied for the brothers who have the office of preaching and the care of brothers, and let them preach all those things that are contained in this writing to the end: let them know they have the blessing of the Lord God and mine. And let these be for them true and holy obedience."[cf., http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/10/what-did-the-poverello-really-say/]
View of the west end of the Town of Assisi, featuring the Basilica of St. Francis.
The Town of Assisi in the Umbria region of Italy is certainly a beautiful and uplifting place to visit. It is a delight to wander its medieval streets, and even see remnants of the Roman town in the Roman temple turned Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minvera and the oval of the old Roman amphitheater. In Assisi, St. Francis, and his original four companions, are buried in the Basilica of St. Francis, St. Claire of Assisi is buried in the Basilica of Santa Chiara, and in the valley below the medieval city, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli houses the Porziuncola and the site of the death of St. Francis. Finally the Cathedral of San Rufino in Assisi is where St. Francis, St. Clare, and Emperor Frederick II were baptized.
What follows are some images of the delightful Umbrian village of Assisi, long part of the Papal States, along with the Churches mentioned above. All photos by the author of this blog:
Street scene in Assisi.
Looking outside of town into the Umbrian mountains.
What remains of a Roman amphitheatre in the eastern part of the town (note the curved wall).
The Basilica of St. Francis at the west end of the town. Site of the tomb of St. Francis.
The Basilica of Santa Chiara -- here St. Clare is buried.
Looking back at Santa Chiara from the west.
The Cathedral of San Rufino.