On this Easter Sunday, let us meditate on the powerful image of the Resurrection in the lower basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, reflecting on this passage from “The Tree of Life” by Saint Bonaventure:
When the third day dawned of the Lord’s sacred rest in the tomb, which in the cycle of the week is both the eighth and the first, Christ, “the power and wisdom of God,” with the author of death now lying prostate, conquered even death itself and opened to us access to eternity, when he raised himself from the dead by his divine power in order “to make known to us the paths of life.”
Then “there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, with raiment like snow and his countenance like lightening.” He appeared attractive to the devout and severe to the wicked; for he terrified the cruel soldiers and comforted the frightened women, to whom the Lord himself first appeared after rising because their intense devotion so merited. Then he was seen by Peter, then by the disciples going to Emmaus, then by all the apostles, except Thomas. Later he presented himself to be touched by Thomas, who proclaimed his faith: “My Lord and my God.” And thus during forty days he appeared in many ways to his disciples, both eating and drinking with them; and he enlightened our faith with proofs and lifted up our hope with promises so finally to enkindle our love with gifts from heaven.
This most beautiful “flower of the root of Jesse,” which had blossomed in the incarnation and withered in the passion, thus blossomed again in the resurrection so as to become the beauty of all. For that most glorious body . . . was clothed in glory so as to be truly more radiant than the sun, showing an example of the beauty destined for our risen human bodies. For the Savior himself said: “Then the just will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” that is, in eternal beatitude. So if the just will shine forth like the sun, how great do you think is the radiance of the very Sun of justice himself? So great is it, I say, that it is “more beautiful than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars.” Yes, happy the eyes that have seen!!!! But you too will be truly happy. . . to see that most desired splendor! (Tree of Life, 34–35)
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning! Amen. Alleluia!
Main image: The image, like the others posted this past week, is from the fresco cycle by Pietro Lorenzetti in the lower basilica of San Francesco in Assisi (c. 1320).
Dominic V. Monti, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province (USA) and currently professor of Franciscan Research in the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University. He devoted the greater part of his ministry to teaching the History of Christianity, in particular the history of the Franciscan movement. He has contributed two volumes to the Works of St. Bonaventure series and is author of Francis & His Brothers, a popular history of the Friars Minor.