San Francesco de Asis, 2002
mixed media, leather doll with beaded face and nimbus, antique fabrics, lion is painted leather with dyed angora goat hair mane. Base is hammered aluminum.
Patron of Italy and New Mexico, ecologists, animals, reconciliation within the family
Feast Day: 4 October
Francesco was born in 1181 in Assisi, Umbria. He had dreams of becoming a troubadour or a knight but as the son of a wealthy cloth merchant he was expected to follow in his father's footsteps. While in his early twenties, Francesco took part in military expeditions. In an attack on Perugia, he was taken hostage and imprisoned for a year. Francesco returned to Assisi to recuperate from the first of many illnesses that were to plague him for his entire life. He had a calling to rebuild a derelict church of San Damiano in Assisi, to preach, and to minister to lepers. After wandering the countryside preaching with a few companions, Francesco made a pilgrimage to Rome. Pope Innocent III approved of his founding a brotherhood called Friars Minors.
In 1219 Francesco accompanied Crusaders to Egypt where he tried to convert the Sultan to Christianity. He retired from his leadership duties of the ever growing brotherhood of Franciscans to lead a life of secluded prayer. During a retreat in 1224 on Mount Alverno, a part of the Apennines, in preparation for the feast of St. Michael, Francesco received the five wounds of the Stigmata. These wounds never healed for the remaining two years of his life.
Francesco is wearing a well worn and patched habit, capuche, breeches, and a cord around his waist. He stands with his arms making the sign of regret.
In this interpretation, a lion is his companion. Traditionally lions are attributes for St. Jerome, Abbot Gerasimus, and the winged one for St. Mark. This lion memorialized Marjan, who died in a zoo in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier this year. ( 2002). I have named Francesco's lion, Ahimsa, the sanskrit word for nonviolence.
One lesson that I want to share from studying Francesco's life is of compassion, humility, courtesy, and reverence for all beings both animate and inanimate that inhabit Mother Earth. See no distinction between yourself and the natural world. All is equal beneath Father Sky. Have the courage to make it a life-long song