(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)
St Francis Receiving the Stigmata1585-90
Oil on canvas, 102 x 97 cm
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
El Greco painted many representations of St Francis, all showing him in meditation, receiving the stigmata or experiencing a vision. Devotion to St Francis was highly developed in Spain, and in El Greco's time there were in Toledo alone ten Franciscan religious institutions. Many ordinary Toledans were members of the Third Order of Saint Francis, established so that lay people could participate in the spiritual life of the Franciscans. (El Greco himself was a lay Franciscan.) This serves to explain the success of El Greco's images of the saint.