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The Cross of San Damiano
By
Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
Source: Friar Jack's Favorite Prayers
Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013

Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart; Give me right faith, sure hope, and perfect charity. Fill me with understanding and knowledge, that I may fulfill your command.

Franciscan documents of the 13th century indicate that the crucifix before which St. Francis prayed this prayer was in the little chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi. The body of Christ, as painted on this cross, is not bloody or twisted in anguish. Rather, his body is quite luminous, as if it were already risen, radiating the fullness of God. Instead of a crown of thorns, this image of Christ has a glorious halo. And his body with outstretched arms appears to be ascending to heaven. In short, the image clearly suggests the risen Jesus. Smaller images around the central figure include Mary and the beloved disciple, the centurion, and images of the ascension. The San Damiano cross can be the center of a powerful reflection on the mystery of Easter.

—Adapted from Friar Jack’s Favorite Prayers by Jack Wintz, O.F.M


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