The Transitus (Death) of Francis

The Transitus of St. Francis..

is traditionally celebrated by Franciscans all over the world on October 3rd.

This is the vigil of the Feast of St. Francis and is a night to commemorate the death of our beloved Saint. Transitus is a Latin word that means passage or crossing over. In every account written on the death of St. Francis, it is remembered that he crossed over from life on earth to eternal life with the Lord, full of great joy and song.

“On the eve of his death, the saint, in imitation of his Divine Master, had bread brought to him and broken. This he distributed among those present, blessing Bernard of Quintaville, his first companion, Elias, his vicar, and all the others in order. “I have done my part,” he said next, “may Christ teach you to do yours.” Then wishing to give a last token of detachment and to show he no longer had anything in common with the world, Francis removed his poor habit and lay down on the bare ground, covered with a borrowed cloth, rejoicing that he was able to keep faith with his Lady Poverty to the end. After a while he asked to have read to him the Passion according to St. John, and then in faltering tones he himself intoned Psalm cxli. At the concluding verse, ‘Bring my soul out of prison’, Francis was led away from earth by ‘Sister Death’, in whose praise he had shortly before added a new strophe to his ‘Canticle of the Sun’.“

–  Paschal Robinson, Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Francis of Assisi

This painting …

was performed by the Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and it’s located in Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut, United States of America.

Saint Francis of Assisi is shown in a state of ecstasy, at the moment of receiving the signs of the stigmata, the wounds left in Christ’s body by the Crucifixion. Franciscan tradition sustains that in 1224, St Francis retired to the wilderness with brother Leo. A six-winged seraph (one of the higher orders of angels) came down to St Francis in answer to the saint’s prayer that he might know both Christ’s suffering and His love.

This work was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco del Monte, to celebrate his ascension to this high service. In this scene, st Francis has just received the stigmata, and an angel is holding him.

The painting was the first of Caravaggio’s religious canvasses, and is thought to date from 1595, when he had recently entered the household of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte.

(Oil on canvas, 1595)