Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Francis: The Sign of the Cross

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Numbers 21:4–9;
Psalm 102:2–3, 16–18, 19–21;
John 8:21–30

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own . . .” —John 8:28

Francis prayed continually to be identified with the crucified Christ. His efforts throughout his life to conform himself to the Gospel eventually resulted in a visible manifestation of that prayer.

Two years before Francis gave his soul back to heaven, while he was living in the hermitage which was called Alverna, after the place on which it stood, he saw in the vision of God a man standing above him, like a seraph with six wings, his hands extended and his feet joined together and fixed to a cross. Two of the wings were extended above his head, two were extended as if for flight, and two were wrapped around the whole body….

[T]he fact that the seraph was fixed to a cross and the sharpness of his suffering filled Francis with fear…. [W]hile he was thus unable to come to any understanding of it and the strangeness of the vision perplexed his heart, the marks of the nails began to appear in his hands and feet, just as he had seen them a little before in the crucified man above him…. Furthermore, his right side was as though it had been pierced by a lance.

Our Lenten journey isn’t likely to lead to this kind of spiritual experience. But we can take away from it something of the absorbing love Francis had for God. We can pray that in our own way we will increase our love for God and come to see signs of that love in the relationships we have with one another.


You are holy, Lord, the only God, and your deeds are
You are strong. You are great.
You are the Most High, You are almighty.
You, holy Father, are King of heaven and earth.

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