Francis of Assisi (1181/1182–1226)

  • Becoming one in suffering

    Even before his death, Francis of Assisi was venerated as a saint. He left no accounts of his own life but historical facts and many legends testify to his path from a child born of a wealthy family to an ascetic who lived in poverty, alone or with like-minded brothers.

    To this day, his personal example marks the numerous different branches of the Franciscan Order and he continues to influence Franciscan mysticism. In this context his intimate relation with nature which is expressed in his famous Canticle of the Sun plays an important role.

    The five wounds of Christ or stigmata which are said to have appeared on his body after he had a vision of a six-winged seraph are understood as a symbol of becoming one in suffering with the crucified Christ. The stigmata are said to have left behind a “wonderful glow of love” in his soul. The theological consequence of this was that Francis of Assisi was seen as an “other”, that is 'a second' Christ.