Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

On September 17, Franciscans around the world remember the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. Francis had gone up to La Verna, a mountain retreat area of quiet prayer. In this location there were caves and wooded areas where he could pray in seclusion. He was observing a time of fasting and conversation with God for forty days leading to the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. He asked to experience Jesus’ suffering. He was blessed with the same wounds as Christ on his hands, feet, and side.

This event and the resulting marks may seem very strange to us. It’s not every day that we see someone walking around with wounds like those of Jesus. But, it’s also not very often that we meet someone like St. Francis! Francis helps us to understand the love of Jesus through these injuries. Francis focused throughout his ministry on the significance of Jesus being God-with-us, the incarnation, reminding us that people are vulnerable, fragile, and limited, like Christ on the Cross. When we think about Francis living a Gospel life, it’s not so much because of the wounds he had like those of Jesus. Rather it is because of the way he treated others, the way he saw the good in each person.

May we see the model of St. Francis as a guide for us as we continue the healing ministry of Jesus by providing compassionate care that respects the dignity of each person we serve.

Blessed Angela: “I also ask our Holy Father Francis that he imbue you with his spirit.”

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