The Evening Sermon on Saint Francis, 1262 - 720 

stigmata of the Lord Jesus which appeared on the body of Saint Francis.

In the literal sense "the heavens" refer to the reality we see above us. Understood in this sense, the sign of the cross will appear in the heavens on Judgment Day as a sign of the Judge's severity, so that all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him and as Habakkuk says: The sun and moon . . . shall speed in the brightness of your glittering spear. This spear by which David brought down Goliath, namely, the Devil, is the cross of Christ. Saint John Chrysostom remarks that it will appear on Judgment Day more splendid than all the stars.a

The sign of the cross appeared in heaven which can be understood allegorically; that is, it appeared on the body of our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of the crucifixion. We read in Isaiah: In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples, that is, as a sign of mercy. The cross which Christ carried and on which he suffered is a sign of mercy to all peoples and to every nation, as Isaiah continues: him shall the nations seek and his tomb shall be glorious. The Jews who refuse to recognize and accept Christ ought to consider all this carefully and acknowledge its truth. Let them search to see if the tomb of any other man is as glorious.

This sign also appeared in the mystical body of Christ and it will be seen on his members, as Saint Paul says: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal 5:24 Only those who bear his sign belong to Christ's army, that is, the sign of Christ's cross. Therefore, everyone will have to bear this sign. God revealed the sign of the cross, however, in a special way to two members of Christ's mystical body: to Emperor Constantine I and to Saint Francis.

For many generations up to the time of Constantine, kings and emperors had been pagans and there had been war and dissension among the peoples of the earth. It was as though the blessings of Christ's cross had been consigned to oblivion. Then the sign of the cross appeared in the heavens to Constantine when he had to go to war against Maxentius. It appeared as a sign of victory for Constantine was told: 1ou1ep which means "in this sign, conquer" or "In this sign you will be victorious."b At that moment he acknowledged the Crucified One and made the sign of the cross on his forehead. From then onwards the cross was transformed from being a gibbet for brigands into a sign on the foreheads of emperors. After this Constantine sent his mother, Saint Helen, to Jerusalem to search for the wood of the cross. She found it and sent it to Jerusa-




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 720