San Francisco de Asis (St. Francis of Assisi)

Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS

Artist's Narrative:
San Francisco was born in 1181 to a prosperous Italian merchant family. After a very brief career as a soldier Francis experienced a great conversion and dedicated his life to penance, poverty, and the passion of Christ. He founded the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, which spread throughout Europe. Francis was the first known saint to experience the stigmata, the signs of the wounds of Christ. He led a life of extreme privation all the while praising God in His wondrous creation.

In New Mexico San Francisco was one of the patrons of the lay Brothers of Penitence. Many places in the state are named after San Francisco including the famous city of Santa Fe which was originally called the “royal city of the holy faith of St Francis”. The Santa Fe cathedral is named after San Francisco as was the first Franciscan mission at the native pueblo of Puaray.

In sacred art San Francisco is shown in brown, grey, or blue robes tied with a knotted cord. He is sometimes surrounded by animals, especially birds. In his penitential aspect, San Francisco is shown praying in a cave before a crucifix with a skull at his feet or sometimes with his hands outstretched as he receives the stigmata. San Francisco is patron of all Franciscans, penitents, the poor, nature, and ecology.

His feast day is October 4.


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