Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata

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Giotto, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, 1295
St. Francis seems utterly too big for the world that surrounds him. The houses and trees resemble nothing more than dollhouse figurines. Giotto memorializes St. Francis in the painting by allowing him to consume the canvas; even Christ seems to appear miniature in comparison to Francis. He kneels before an all powerful Jesus takes over the other part of the canvas. Giotto’s cloudless sky needs no sun for Jesus, and even though he may appear smaller, he still holds a pivotal place in the canvas. The gold in Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata painted in 1295 would be illuminated in the glow of candles in a church. The painting allows the viewer to remember what has been sacrificed for the passage into Heaven. People who search out the canvas all know the story of Jesus’ sacrifice, and St. Francis’ faith, yet Giotto reinvents the story. While the story and words may have lost their meaning, the painting touches people still. However hard the life of a Christian may be and whatever hardships they encounter, they have heavenly figures looking out for them.

The bottom of the painting serves a more practical purpose, giving the viewers a chronological view of St. Francis’ life. To the far left, there sleeps the Pope who is visited by Saint Peter. While, in the middle of a deep sleep he dreams of an unknown monk who is saving the collapsing church. The middle image is of the Pope welcoming St. Francis and a number of his followers. In the meeting he blesses the new Franciscan order. The last image to the right portrays Francis doing what he loves most, being one with nature. The birds point to the left while the church falls to the right, all point to the middle scene that shows the orders obedience to the church.

St. Francis as righteous as he is, never veers far from his path. His halo shows his divinity and separation from others, but do not hesitate to approach him. His frock, the color of the ground, still shows his connection to Earth.

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