GOZZOLI, Benozzo
(b. ca. 1420, Firenze, d. 1497, Pistoia)

Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 11, south wall)

Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco

Benozzo connected the small lunette above the window to the Stigmatisation of St Francis on the right south wall. The lunette shows the winged Cross floating over a rock formation. Rays emanate from the Cross surrounded by seraphs; they converge on the bordering picture field and the kneeling saint whose hands are raised. It is the five wounds of Christ that St Francis is receiving. Due to the chosen sequence of the scenes, the stigmatisation is given particular prominence. The rays do not hit the saint directly, as they change their direction while en route.

Receiving the stigmata was the most important event in the life of the saint and happened in 1224 on the mountain of La Verna in Tuscany. Gozzoli has depicted this scene across two wall fields: the direction in which Francis and the sitting monk are looking, as well as the cluster of rays, lead us across to a second picture field above the central lunette of the choir, which is bordered by the window jamb. Here the Crucifix and seraphs appear, surrounded by a shining mandorla.

The inscription reads: QUANDO BEATUS FRA(N)CISCUS IN MO(NTE) ALVERNE RECEPIT STIGMATA YHV XRI - "How St Francis received the wounds of Jesus Christ on the mountain of La Verna."