St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians made reference that those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified there flesh with its passions and desires. “May I never boast of anything but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world…All that matters is that one is created anew…Peace and Mercy on all who follow this rule of life, and on the Israel of God…for I bear the brand marks of Jesus in my body.”We read this in the first reading of the Divine Office for the Stigmata of our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi.
Our Holy Father St. Francis was a man who turned his heart to Christ and crucified his flesh to the world for the love of God. A man whose life was filled with many blessings for all. A man regarded for his extraordinary humility, simplicity, and poverty…and charity, and a man who wanted to imitate Jesus in all things.
In the year 1224 near the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, while praying atop of Mt. Alverna, our Holy Father prayed “My Lord Jesus Christ, I beg thee to grant me two graces before my death: first, that for the rest of my life I may experience in my soul and in my body, as much as possible, the same pain that you suffered, O sweet Jesus, during the time of thy most cruel Passion; and second, that I may feel in my heart, as much as possible, the same love which inflamed thee, the Son of God, and led thee to suffer thy passion gladly for us sinners.”
An external sign was given that God had answered his prayer, while caught up in ecstasy our Holy Father encountered a seraph who offered him an image and imprint of Jesus crucified. This incident gave our Holy Father the stigmata or the sacred wounds of our Lord from which blood would flow until his death two years later.
The sign is a reminder of God’s tremendous love for us…worked through men like St. Francis or St. Padre Pio who conformed their lives to God humbly. This miracle is to call us to a deeper life of practicing heroic virtue more and to possess a special love of the cross, uniting our own individual sufferings to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus that conform us to the will of God. Through this we imitate the life and love of Jesus Christ and we become a light for the salvation of the world just as St. Francis of Assisi for the whole world to see.
May All Praise and Thanksgiving be given to God Almighty now and forever.