The Feast of the stigmata September 17th
Yesterday the Church Universal celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in remembrance of the discovery of Jesus’ Cross beneath the Temple of Aphrodite sometime early in the 4th Century; for Franciscan’s everywhere this Feast heralds another more proximate to our hearts and that is the Feast of the Stigmata. Read Sabatier’s rather unromantic record here below:- 1
“In June, 1224, Francis attended his last chapter meeting, at which the new rule was formally delivered to the provincial ministers. In August, with a few of the brothers closest to him, he made his way through the Apennine forest to the peak of Alvernia, a place of retreat put at his disposal years earlier by the lord of Chiusi. A hut of branches was built for him, a little way from his companions. Brother Leo daily brought him food. His fears for the future of the order now increased and reached a climax. And here it was, on or about Holy Cross Day, September 14, that at sunrise, after a night of prayer, he had a vision of a winged seraph, nailed to a cross, flying towards him; he also felt keen stabs of pain in hands, feet, and sides. The vision vanished, and he discovered on his body the stigmata of the crucified Christ. During his lifetime, few persons saw the stigmata, called by Dante, “the ultimate seal.” Thenceforth he kept his hands covered with the sleeves of his habit, and wore shoes and stockings. To those who were there with him, he disclosed what had happened, and within a few days composed the poem, “Praise of the Most High God.”” – Sabatier “ Life of Francis” 2
Complete version here – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18787/18787-h/18787-h.htm
“St. Francis’ first biographer, Thomas of Celano, reports the event as follows in his 1230 First Life of St. Francis:
“When the blessed servant of God saw these things he was filled with wonder, but he did not know what the vision meant. He rejoiced greatly in the benign and gracious expression with which he saw himself regarded by the seraph, whose beauty was indescribable; yet he was alarmed by the fact that the seraph was affixed to the cross and was suffering terribly. Thus Francis rose, one might say, sad and happy, joy and grief alternating in him. He wondered anxiously what this vision could mean, and his soul was uneasy as it searched for understanding. And as his understanding sought in vain for an explanation and his heart was filled with perplexity at the great novelty of this vision, the marks of nails began to appear in his hands and feet, just as he had seen them slightly earlier in the crucified man above him. His wrists and feet seemed to be pierced by nails, with the heads of the nails appearing on his wrists and on the upper sides of his feet, the points appearing on the other side. The marks were round on the palm of each hand but elongated on the other side, and small pieces of flesh jutting out from the rest took on the appearance of the nail-ends, bent and driven back. In the same way the marks of nails were impressed on his feet and projected beyond the rest of the flesh. Moreover, his right side had a large wound as if it had been pierced with a spear, and it often bled so that his tunic and trousers were soaked with his sacred blood.” 3
More on Stigmata here Stigmata at Catholic. Org
Stigmata – or – the Judith von Halle Phenomenon
- 1.Franciscan Media. 2015. Exaltation of the Holy Cross. [ONLINE] Available at:href=”http://hub.franciscanmedia.org/Home/pfSaint?sid=1138″>http://hub.franciscanmedia.org/Home/pfSaint?sid=1138. [Accessed 14 September 15].
- 2.Paul Sabatier. 1894. St Francis of Assisi. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/FRANCIS.htm. [Accessed 15th September 2015].
- 3.”Medieval Sourcebook: Thomas of Celano: Lives of St. Francis”. Fordham.edu. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/stfran-lives.html. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- 3.AT Stigmata – Catholic Online. 2015. Stigmata – Catholic Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.catholic.org/saints/stigmata/. [Accessed 15 September 2015].