Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. Francis

St Francis of Assisi by Cimabue 1272. (During the pontificate of Pope Nicholas IV, the first Franciscan pope, Cimabue worked at Assisi. His call was perhaps due to the fame he gained in Rome in 1272, although no works from his stay there are known. At Assisi, in the transept of the Lower Basilica of San Francesco, he frescoed a Madonna with Child Enthroned, Four Angels and St. Francis) from wikipedia
If that date is true, then Cimabue painted this fresco in the Basilica of Assisi not much more than 50 or 60 years past the time when Francis was alive. (1181-1226)  Perhaps there were people  still about who had known Francis and could give a very accurate description of his appearance?
We visited the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in a one day trip out of Rome. If I could go back, I would make a longer trip out of visiting Assisi. The little medieval city is so interesting and I could spend a couple of days exploring. And the Basilica of St Francis is full of amazing art from Giotto, Cimabue, Lorenzetti, and various medieval masters.
My favorite memory happened when I stood in front of the basilica sketching the outside (see my next post) and a monk approached me. He was wearing the garb of the Franciscans; grey robe and rope belt. He introduced himself and asked if he could pray for me. And I said yes, and he did, I was most deeply moved. He gave me a little prayer card that had a reproduction of this portrait of St. Francis on it. On the back of the card it says:

The Lord bless you
and keep you.
The Lord show His face to
you and have mercy on you.
The Lord turn His countenance to you
and give you peace
...may Our Lord bless you.