Liturgical Texts for the Feast of the Stigmata of Saint Francis - 662 

At the time of the Lord Pope Benedict XII [1334-42], it happened that near Avignon, in a city where the brothers had a cloister, one day, while all the brothers were in choir at the Divine Office, two brothers of another religion arrived and walked around. Then one of them saw painted on the wall the image of Saint Francis with the sacred stigmata. He said to his companion: "Those Lesser [Brothers] want to make their saint resemble Christ." And he took out his knife and said, "I want to gouge out those stigmata from this image, so he won't look similar to Christ." And having said this he carried out his work. And when he had gouged out those five stigmata they started to drip blood profusely.

On seeing this, he said to his companion, "Oh! What should I do?" The companion said, "You've committed a real mortal sin! I advise you, run quickly to a confessor and confess." And so he did. After confession he returned to the image, but the blood did not cease flowing. Seeing this that wretch was very upset and returned to the confessor and told him this. The confessor advised him to run to the Pope and tell him all this and get his advice about what to do.

And, as fast as he could, he carried out the order, went to the Pope and revealed all this to him. When the Pope heard this, he asked him if the thing were really like this. And the man confirmed with an oath that it was so. Then the Pope said, "In any case, I want to see this wonder." And when he came there, he saw blood flowing profusely from the sacred stigmata of that image. Then the lord Pope, greatly astonished, knelt down before the image. Reaching his hands out toward heaven, he said: "Saint Francis, forgive the harm of that wretched sinner, for I promise you that I want to institute the celebration of the feast of your stigmata, and I particularly want to order your brothers that throughout the whole Order they are to celebrate the feast of your stigmata solemnly." As soon as the lord Pope made the vow, the blood stopped flowing. Then the Pope imposed a penance on that wretched sinner.

And thus he instituted the feast of the sacred stigmata, and from then on no one dared to disparage those sacred stigmata. And whoever further presumed to do this is to be judged a heretic. Let us therefore beg Saint Francis that because of his sacred stigmata he pray to the Lord for us, that after this life he would lead us to the eternal homeland. Amen.

A similar story appears in The Deeds of Blessed Francis and His Companions, but it contains some important nuances. While the Avignon Compilation describes




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 662