A letter to St. Francis from a modern-day pilgrim

 

Saint Francis Stigmatization of St Francis c 1594-5 (II Baroccio)
The Stigmatization of St. Francis, art by Federico Barocci (II Baroccio) c. 1594-5

 

Dear Francis
(On the occasion of your stigmata),

As if
you could
know
why a seraph
should appear,
why its six
dazzling wings
should enfold
the dying Christ.
As if
you could ask
the mountain’s
jutting rocks
what provoked
those lonely hills
to illuminate
your fast.
Because
I cannot say
why love and pain
go hand in hand,
I will not
doubt
the sky
tore up
in flames,
that day of joy
and blood—
nor that
you bore
His wounds.

From one unpierced

 

~ A poem by Abigail Carroll

 

 

How did St. Francis of Assisi receives the Stigmata of Christ?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September 1224) while praying on the mountainside, that he beheld the marvelous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says and early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart.

Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint’s autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than any other historical fact.

The saint’s right side is described as bearing an open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward.

After the reception of the stigmata, Francis suffered increasing pains throughout his frail body, already broken by continual mortification. Worn out, moreover, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind.

Francis died in 1226 at the age of forty-five. He was canonized in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX.