For additional illustrated information see:
St. Francis and St. Clare - life and times (opens in new window)
The Crucifix of San Damiano
St. Francis of Assisi was born into a wealthy merchant family in Umbria, Italy, where he became well known for his incredible gift of music, and well loved for his generous nature.
Francis often went to pray in a nearby chapel in a town called San Damiano. One day God spoke to him through the cross in the chapel. God asked Francis to repair the San Damiano Chapel, which had fallen into ruin. Without hesitation, Francis took a costly piece of silk from his father's warehouse, sold it, and with the money bought stones to repair the chapel.
Angry with Francis for his thievery, his merchant father took Francis to court, prompting Francis to give up his inheritance in order to devote himself completely to God, serving Him in any way he could.
- The crucifix became known as the San Damiano Crucifix and is referred to as an icon cross because it contains images of people who have a part in the meaning of the cross.
- Jesus, Mary the mother of Jesus, St. John, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and the Centurion who expressed his belief in Christ are featured on the painting.
- The Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus and the soldier who offered Him the sponge dipped in wine are pictured at the bottom.
- Six angels rest on the crossbar and at the foot of the cross is a picture of six figures believed to be the patron saints of Umbria.
- There is also a small rooster as a reminder of Peter's denial, as well as a reminder not to put too much reliance on our own strength.
- At the top of the cross is a fully robed Jesus ascending into heaven.
- Angels crowd around Him as the right hand of God blesses all that Jesus has done.