October 3, 2017

Saint Francis and the Six-Winged Seraph

St. Francis of Assisi and the Holy Stigmata

In early August 1224, Saint Francis of Assisi, accompanied by three fellow friars, ascended Mount La Verna where the later would pray an extended vigil ending on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel. In the morning light of September 17th, Francis beheld a six-winged Seraph, [angel] whose wings were aflame, imprint him with the Holy Stigmata and assume the likeness of Christ Crucified. Here are excerpts from a reflection by Br. Vincent Mary Carrasco via Catholic Chowder.

Saint Francis Receives the Stigmata of Christ

Br. Vincent Mary Carrasco, O.F.M.Cap.

"According to the writings of Saint Bonaventure, Saint Francis was 'led by divine providence to a high place apart called Mount La Verna.' (FAED II, Ch. 12) Two years before his death, in what was his usual custom of fasting for 40 days in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Francis would 'experience more abundantly than usual an overflow of the sweetness of heavenly contemplations.'

In the days of the Exaltation of the Cross, Saint Francis was praying on the mountainside of Mt. La Verna and he saw a six-winged seraph, fiery as well as brilliant, descend from the grandeur of Heaven. Bonaventure writes, as the vision was disappearing, it left in his heart [Francis] a marvelous fire and imprinted in his flesh a likeness of signs no less marvelous. The Sacred Stigmata of the Crucified Christ were now embroidered into St. Francis and the mark of Christ’s love were now visible to him and all who were around him….

Bonaventure tells us that it was a custom of St. Francis to never rest from lifting himself up in prayer. He was always found in prayer, seeking the solitude of the quiet he would frequently go off to pray. He made himself available to God by his own desire to be transformed by God. He prayed out of perfect joy and perfect love, because of this, the very marks of Christ’s wounds were engraved in him…

When Francis witnessed the six-winged seraph, he immediately recognized the likeness of a man crucified. His hands and feet both extended in the form of a cross. At this, he eventually would learn that he would be transformed into the likeness of Christ crucified not by death but by the enkindling of his soul. Francis gazed on the Crucified Christ and it allowed him to be transformed....

As we remember the Stigmata of St. Francis, may we always remember that Christ is present within us, wanting us to enter into His eternal glory. He places his mark within us and asks that we reach out to Him with a loving embrace in order that we be transformed just like St. Francis." [St. Francis, pray for us.]

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