More about The Ecstasy of Saint Francis


The monk here who looks like he’s about to black out after a wild night out is Francis of Assisi. 

Catholic saint with a hardcore case of frugality, founder of the the Franciscans (the namesake of Sartle’s home city), and the first recorded case of stigmata in Church history.  

This work by Baglione depicts the moment he received it in the summer of 1224. Francis journeyed to the mountain retreat of La Verna to fast for forty days in preparation for the Feast of St. Michael on September 29th.  Praying for guidance on how to best serve Christ, he experienced a vision in which he encountered a seraph of unearthly beauty and grace.  Its appearance banished Francis’s fears, renewed his devotion, and left him with the telltale marks on his hands.  For two years until his death, he put in every effort to hide his stigmata, in true modest Franciscan fashion.

Those years saw Francis blind and in constant pain from contracting an eye disease a decade earlier. Common sense would guide him to seek eye treatment at Rieti.  However, eye surgery in those days involved a lot less precision and a lot more pain with the use of hot irons.  With massive amounts of constitution and will, Francis spoke to the hot iron, addressing it as “Brother Fire,” and walked out feeling no pain at all.

There’s a poetry to the subject being so similar to the painter: both Francis and Baglione were massive partiers and reckless youths in their younger days.  However, while Francis devoted himself to Christ in a later life of poverty and devotion, Baglione would go on to father multiple illegitimate children and gain the deep, acidic rivalry of Caravaggio, who wrote poems simply to slander his name.  Caravaggio ended up in jail for his efforts, but ended up being remembered more fondly by future generations, while Baglione, despite winning cases against him and earning a knighthood, fell further and further into obscurity after his death.