Sense of Life. Articles in English. Saint Francis of Assisi and the Stigmata.
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Saint Francis of Assisi and the Stigmata

Francis and his faithful company of three, went to the mountain of Alverna (La Verna) to pray, from the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) to the Feast of St. Michael (September 29). He called this period the Lent of St. Michael. Francis had a special rapport with Mary and Michael from the early days of his conversion. He went to them often, for comfort and consolation, when things got rough. He was going there now to give, by fasting in honor of their feasts; but he knew he would be receiving from them as well.

He always had an exalted devotion to St. Michael. He felt that Michael should be honored because he had the office of presenting souls to God. He also said "Everyone should offer to God, to honor so great a prince (Michael), some praise or some special gift." He loved Mary reverently. As he loved Jesus, he could not do otherwise than love "the womb that bore Him." He sang to her, offered special prayers to her, shared his joys and sorrows with her. She was his very best friend, the Mother of his God. While he was honoring Michael, he was also honoring Mary on the Feast of her Assumption into Heaven, August 15, and her birthday, September 8.

There was a crag on that mountain, a deep crevice which separated one part of that high place from the other. Tradition has it that at the very moment Our Dear Lord Jesus died, this mountain split in two, as the whole earth shook in protest over the demonic act of murdering our Savior. Francis loved to sit on that jagged rock, and meditate on the Passion of Jesus. The brothers brought him some bread and water from time to time, but for the most part, he was alone with his Lord and Savior.

According to the Divine Plan, another special Feast fell during the Lent of St. Michael. It took place on September 14, and was called The Exaltation of the Cross. Today, we celebrate it on the same day, but we call it the Triumph of the Cross. On that day, in 1224, the Lord gave Francis a distinctive gift, as reward for a lifetime of service. Might not our Lord also have been telling Francis that he was right, he had shepherded his flock the way Jesus wanted, but that it didn't matter anymore? For on this day, Jesus gave His brother Francis, the gift of His wounds, His Stigmata.

Francis had been meditating deeply on the Passion of our Lord. He had asked his best Friend, Jesus, for two gifts. The first was that somehow, before he died, he might feel the wounds of Jesus in his own body and soul; and secondly, he might experience Jesus' love for those who inflicted the wounds on His Body, and killed Him. Francis went through a dark night of the soul. His mind kept interfering with his spirit. He thought of what he had given up, his Fraternity, his Rule. He tried desperately to put these things in the back of his consciousness, and just zero in on the pains of His Redeemer. His humanity fought him all through the night, but with the dawn, a stillness, a heavy blanket of peace came over the mountain. Everything was quiet; not a sound from any of the creatures. It was as if they knew what was to come, and were preparing themselves for the entrance of a Heavenly Being.

Light began to emerge from the darkness. Francis thought it was Brother Sun greeting him. But the light was too intense, much stronger than the sun. The curtain separating Heaven from earth split open. A figure came forth, slowly, and carried the brilliant light with it. Francis couldn't look at it; the light was too strong. Then the Lord allowed Francis' eyes to open. Before him, suspended in the air, was a huge Angel, who appeared to be made of fire, he was so bright; but there were no flames coming from him. He had six wings, two extended over his head, two extended as if for flight, and two covering his body. The angel was nailed to a cross; the wounds of Jesus flared up, and shivered against the light. They were of a deep crimson, sprinkled with gold.

Francis stood up joyfully, to greet the Seraph. At that moment, beams of heated illumination shot out of the Angel's wounds, and penetrated Francis' body, hands, feet and side. He fell from the force of the thrust; his body experienced devastating pain, mixed with inconceivable joy. His blood raced throughout his body; he was sure he would die. Then the sensation calmed down to a constant throb of joy and pain. He looked up at the Heavenly creature. The eyes of the Angel were studying Francis. The stare was compelling. There was at once fear and bliss, mixed together. He didn't know what was happening to him. The eyes of the Angel were the most beautiful he had ever seen. He could not look away from them.

The Heavenly vision spoke gently to Francis' heart. He told him things he had to hear, which were for him alone; he would not in his lifetime, reveal them to anyone. He stayed with Francis for the better part of an hour. This is according to the testimony of the farmers, and mule keepers at the foot of the mountain. They mistook the brilliant light for the sun coming up, and began their day. Then, when it disappeared, and the natural sun came out, it was colorless by comparison.

Many insights were revealed to Francis on top of Mount Alverna. His whole life was put into perspective. He finally understood his journey, and while his humanity would tend to kick in over the next two years, he could always fall back on this time, and the revelations he received, and a peace would come over him.

Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints. More information about Saint Francis of Assisi at



Re-published from in October 2012

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