Father Zehnle, one of the priests here where I live, recently traveled to the Shrine of La Verna, a famous place in Tuscany that belongs to the Franciscans. It was at La Verna that St. Francis received the stigmata in September of 1224.
I was very impressed with this photo that Father took of the altar in the Chapel of the Stigmata, which marks the exact place where St. Francis received that special charism.
This imposing crucifixion scene was made of glazed terracotta in 1480 by the famous artist Andrea della Robbia. Notice that at the top of the crucifix, immediately above the INRI, there is a “pious pelican“: traditional symbol of the Eucharist, representing the self-sacrificing love of Christ. At the very bottom there is the inscription: “O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus” – “O all you who pass by, behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). St. Francis genuflects next to Our Lady as he beholds the scene.
Beautiful. And one of the many beautiful Franciscan shrines here in Italy: yet another reason why we should stop the Franciscan madness!!
Some trivia: Pope Benedict XVI, when he was a cardinal, liked to go to La Verna for retreats and time away. Pope Francis had several of the Franciscan friars as servers and MCs at his Inaugural Mass as Pope, at the invitation of Msgr. Guido Marini, Pontifical Master of Ceremonies.