On this day, Our Savior bestowed upon the body of St. Francis of Assisi His own five sacred wounds, the "Stigmata". We present some anecdotes on how this saint was devoted to the Holy Eucharist.
Today (September 17) is the Commemoration of the St. Francis of Assisi receiving the Stigmata (holy wounds) of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So it is befitting to relate the devotion that the Seraphic Father had for the Blessed Sacrament.
Of St. Francis’ devotion to the Body of the Lord
Francis burned with a love that came from his whole being for the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body, and he was carried away with wonder at the loving condescension and the most condescending love shown there. Not to hear at least one Mass each day if he could be there, he considered no small contempt. He frequently received Holy Communion, and he did so with such devotion that he made others also devout.
Showing toward that sacrament deserving of all reverence he could, he offered a sacrifice of all his members; and receiving the Lamb that was offered, he immolated his own spirit with the fire that burned always upon the altar of his heart... He wished at one time to send his brothers through the world with precious pyxes, so that wherever they should see the price of our redemption kept in an unbecoming manner, they should place it in the very best place.
He wanted great reverence shown to the hands of priests, for to these has been given authority from God over the consecrated bread and wine. Often he would say:
If it should happen that I would meet at the same time some saint from heaven and any poor priest, I would first show honor to the priest and quickly go to kiss his hands. And I would say to the other: 'Wait, St. Lawrence, for the hands of this one touch the Word of Life, and have something about them that is more than human.'"
Excerpted from St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Thomas of Celano (Franciscan Herald Press, 1963).
1 The small, watchcase-like metal vessel used for carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the sick.
2 St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, was one of the most revered Roman saints in St. Francis’ time (and even today), which as Butler’s Lives of the Saints relates:
There are few martyrs in the Church whose names are so famous as that of St. Lawrence, in whose praises the most illustrious among the Latin fathers have written, and whose triumph, to use the words of St. Maximus, the whole Church joins in a body to honor with universal joy and devotion…"