By Anne Leader

Today, October 4, is the feast day of St. Francis. In 1235, Bonaventura Berlinghieri signed and dated an altarpiece showing a standing figure of St. Francis displaying his stigmata flanked by six narrative scenes of key moments in the new saint’s life. This image, which shows strong ties to Byzantine icons, survives as one of the earliest images celebrating the recently canonized Francis, who had died only nine years earlier and received sainthood two years later. The image emphasizes Francis’ humility and poverty as well as his special relationship to Jesus.

Bonaventura Berlinghieri: St Francis and Scenes from his Life, tempera on panel, 1235 (Pescia, S Francesco); photo credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY

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