Tuesday, October 4, 2016

St. Francis of Assisi: A Photo Essay

“God’s Fool,” by Frank C Gaylord, of Barrem VT.SS Peter and Paul Cemetery
in Naperville, Illinois (Photo by Rapie Poolsawasdi)

October 4 is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Of all the saints, Francis is the most universally known and loved. He has creds that reach way beyond the Catholic Church. He is perhaps the only Roman Catholic saint who is also well known in Protestant circles. I have written previously about my visit to Assisi and have posted poems (here and here) about the saint. Today we take a look at a sampling of statues of St. Francis of Assisi that will perhaps shed some light upon how the saint is seen by different people in different cultural settings. 

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Santa Fe New Mexico:

Dancing St Francis in Santa Fe, NM
(photo by Miles Gray)
This statue of St. Francis of Assisi is called St. Francis Dancing on Water, by artist Monika Kaden, and is found in front of the old Cathederal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (apparently the fountain was empty when this photo was taken)

Photo by Karen Rivera
St. Francis de Assisi
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Santa Fe, New Mexico

“This detailed bronze statue of St. Francis with a wolf stands guard in front of The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi doors. Why is he shown with a wolf rather than the more traditional birds and small animals?  Legend has St. Francis negotiating a deal with the predator that was devastating the countryside in rural Umbria: if the people fed the wolf, the wolf would leave their flocks and their children alone. This was seem as another example of St. Francis’s power over wild creatures.” (From New Mexico Photography, A Wolf at the Door)

St. Francis of Assisi is also the patron saint of Italy (along with Catherine of Sienna):

St. Francis of Assisi
Founder Statue by Carlo Monaldi, 1727
St Peter's Basilica in Rome

Photo by Christin Lore Weber

Near San Damiano, a bronze statue of Francis contemplating the valley where the lepers once were confined and where he went often with his brothers to nurse and care for their wounds and other needs. San Damiano was where Francis heard the words, "Repair my church, you see it is in ruins" and took those words literally at first, to rebuild the tumbled down structure he saw there. Instead, Francis would be a catalyst to rebuild and renew the whole church.

A statue of St Francis of Assisi in Orta San Giulio, Italy, on the way up the Sacro Monte. 
(Photo by Viv from her website at http://vivh.com/index.html )

Photo by Annie Cox

A modern sculpture of Il Poverello (St Francis of Assisi) in front of the Papal Basilica in Assisi, perhaps representing Francis’ early foray as a knight in Assisi’s battle with Perugia. CHANGEMAKRS has a photo of this sculpture on their website with the quote: "He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."
                                                                                               ~ Saint Francis of Assisi

St. Francis in New York 

St. Francis of Assisi Church,West Nyack, NY        Kneeling St. Francis at St. Francis Church,                (from Portfolio of Liturgical Sculpture )              Manhatten (Photo taken by Norm of Awestruck,                                                                                      found on Pinterest)

St. Francis in California

Photo from SFGATE

In San Francisco, just last year, “The 27-foot-tall statue of St. Francis, which has stood outside Candlestick Park since 1973, is being evicted to make way for a new shopping center and hotel. It was created by artist Ruth Wakefield Cravath.” (from SFGATE ) (The statue is currently in storage in Oakland)

Photo by Wally Goebetz

    The St. Francis of Assisi statue, on loan to the Robert Mondavi Winery (Oakville, CA) by the Bufano Society of Arts, was designed by sculptor Beniamino Bufano in 1939. 
(From Wally Goebetz's site at Flickr)

St Francis at Fisherman's Warf

"The figure was carved in Paris, where it stayed in a warehouse for 27 years. Friends of the sculptor transported it to San Francisco in 1955, where it was placed at the Church of St. Francis in North Beach, San Francisco. It was moved to Oakland six years later after much controversy about its placement at the church. It was moved to its present location in 1962 when the San Francisco Bay Area Longshoremen's Memorial Association proposed a permanent location with a park and fountain to surround it on the grounds close to its building near Fisherman's Wharf." (From Waymarks )

St. Francis in Southern Gardens

Aldridge Gardens, Hoover, Ala.
(photo by Charles Kinnaird)
Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin, TX
(photo by Katina)


St. Francis in the Heartland 

Francis at the Foot of the Cross
At St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown, PA

From the church’s website:
From that moment at St. Damien’s church when our Lord spoke to Francis, the Crucifix was a focus of St. Francis’ spiritual life. So much so that Francis wrote a prayer called the “Prayer Before the Crucifix.” It reads like this:

Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness
of my heart and give me Lord,
a correct faith, a certain hope,
a perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

Photo by Sam Lucero

A statue of St. Francis of Assisi, raising his hands heavenward. The statue is located at St. Lawrence High School Seminary in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin.

“A nice public witness seen in Grand Marais, Minnesota” From OrbisCatholicus Travel Blog

Photo from Roadtrippers
Here is another view of the "God's Fool" at the cemetery at Saints Peter and Paul parish in Naperville, Illinois. Part of their missionstatement reads, “By following the call of the Holy Spirit, by imitating Jesus Christ and seeking to do the Father’s will, we share the truth of the Gospel with others by our testimony and example. Through acts of charity and social justice we seek to build a culture of life in the world today as we long for the Kingdom of God in the world to come.”

I hope you have enjoyed these many and varied and marvelous expressions of the beloved saint from Assisi. There are even more than I have pictured here, but I have tried to find representative images of the ways that St. Francis of Assisi still speaks to people today.


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