How did St. Francis identify with Christ? On this Good Friday, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity share a few Franciscan sources that delve into this Francis’ desire to become as much like Christ as possible. We invite you to pray with us and offer your own reflections.
First, St Bonaventure writes this passage about St. Francis’ own death in The Major Legend of Saint Francis, Chapter 15. Special significance is given to the stigmata, but it is clear St. Francis had ‘real relationships’ with others. He was a treasure to them.
. ..bore the likeness of Christ’s passion by a singular privilege and would offer by the newness of a miracle a glimpse of the resurrection. In his blessed hands and feet could be seen the nails that had been marvelously fashioned by divine power out of his flesh and thus embedded in the flesh…so unique and remarkable was the sight to all who observed it that it confirmed their faith and incited their love. It was a matter of amazement to those who heard of it and aroused their desire to see it…
His brothers and sons, who had been called to their father’s passing, with the whole multitude of people, spent that night in which the blessed confessor of Christ departed, in the divine praises. They did this in such a way that it seemed to be a vigil of angels, not a wake for the dead. When day was breaking, the crowds that had assembled took branches from the trees and carried his sacred body to the city of Assisi, with a blaze of many candles and hymns and songs. As they passed the church of San Damiano, where the noble virgin Clare, now glorious in heaven, was then living enclosed with the virgins, they stopped for awhile so that those holy nuns could see and kiss his sacred body, adorned with its heavenly pearls. Finally reaching the city with great rejoicing, with all reverence they placed the precious treasure they were carrying in the church of Saint George.
From the Later Rule of St. Francis, we hear simple, clear directions for daily living:
During a time of obvious need, however, the brothers may not be bound by corporal fast. I counsel, admonish and exhort my brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ not to quarrel or argue or judge others when they go about in the world; be let them be meek, peaceful, modest, gentle, and humble, speaking courteously to everyone, as is becoming…into whatever house they enter, let them first say: ‘Peace be to this house!’ According to the holy Gospel, let them eat whatever food is set before them.
Francis’ Letter to the Entire Order encourages contemplation of the Holy Eucharist in the light of Christ’s own humility:
The Lord of the universe, God and Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread! Brothers, look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him! Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, that He Who gives Himself totally for you may receive you totally!