September 17th – Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi
Excerpt from the January 27, 2010 General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI:
“In 1224, at the hermitage in La Verna, Francis had a vision of the Crucified Lord in the form of a seraph and from that encounter received the stigmata from the Seraph Crucifix, thus becoming one with the Crucified Christ.” Read More
Note: The Franciscan Coat of Arms can be found throughout the ministries, friaries, missions and sites served by the many Orders of Franciscan Friars, around the world. Each version (or artistic interpretation) has the same key elements: the image of the crossed arms with nail wounds in the hands – one representing Christ and the other St. Francis of Assisi who bore the Stigmata. There is also a form of the cross often depicted as the letter “T.” It is actually a “Tau,” the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
A favorite passage for St. Francis of Assisi was Ezekiel 9:4 “… and the LORD said to him:Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark a T (X in English translations) on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it …” The faithful of God were signed with the ‘tau’ and spared. “… But do not touch anyone marked with the T …” (Ezekiel 9:6)
St. Francis’ love of this verse was cemented through Pope Innocent III’s use of this imagery during his November 11, 1215 homily at the Fourth Lateran Council, the most important religious event in the time of St. Francis. Every Catholic in the Church of that time was challenged to take the symbol of the Tau Cross as the sign of their own Passover and Pope Innocent III ended his homily with “Be champions of the Tau!”