(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

St Francis in Meditation

c. 1606
Oil on canvas, 128 x 97 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The founder of the Franciscan Order was the first person to experience the miracle of stigmatization of his own body. In other words, he was marked out by Christ's wounds. Here he is reduced to the ideal state of penance in the wilderness - a state equally valid for saints and pious people. Caravaggio shows no sign of reinterpreting the story unconventionally. His rather traditional approach may derive from the fact that the composition is probably a commission from the papal family. They owned the township known as Carpineto, from where an almost identical second version, stored at present in the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, originated. Stylistically, the painting is very closely related to the Brera Supper in Emmaus, which was probably painted in Latium.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 33 minutes):
Michael Haydn: St Francis Mass