Feast of The Stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi


Today is the feast of the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi, a powerful
reminder of beauty wrought through suffering. Here is some art, music and
poetry inspired by this beloved saint, who lovingly carried the painful wounds of
Christ in his own body.

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Laudar Vollio – Laudario di Cortona (Italian, 13th-century)

St Francis Receiving the Stigmata - Giotto
St Francis Receiving the Stigmata – Giotto

The Sermon of St. Francis

Up soared the lark into the air,
A shaft of song, a wingéd prayer,
As if a soul released from pain
Were flying back to heaven again.

St. Francis heard: it was to him
An emblem of the Seraphim;
The upward motion of the fire,
The light, the heat, the heart’s desire.

Around Assisi’s convent gate
The birds, God’s poor who cannot wait,
From moor and mere and darksome wood
Come flocking for their dole of food.

“O brother birds,” St. Francis said,
“Ye come to me and ask for bread,
But not with bread alone to-day
Shall ye be fed and sent away.

“Ye shall be fed, ye happy birds,
With manna of celestial words;
Not mine, though mine they seem to be,
Not mine, though they be spoken through me.

“Oh, doubly are ye bound to praise
The great Creator in your lays;
He giveth you your plumes of down,
Your crimson hoods, your cloaks of brown.

“He giveth you your wings to fly
And breathe a purer air on high,
And careth for you everywhere,
Who for yourselves so little care!”

With flutter of swift wings and songs
Together rose the feathered throngs,
And singing scattered far apart;
Deep peace was in St. Francis’ heart.

He knew not if the brotherhood
His homily had understood;
He only knew that to one ear
The meaning of his words was clear.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow