Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Franciscan Habit

"He designed for himself a tunic that bore a likeness to the cross ... a very poor and mean tunic, one that would not excite the covetousness of the world. St. Francis wanted the garment to cost as little as possible and that it be mended with odd scraps of cloth when necessary rather than replacing the entire garment when it became worn. Art historian Cordelia Warr believes that the Franciscan habit was intended to make a very distinctive visual statement, and the tattered tunic, with its varied-colored patches, served as an unmistakable expression of extreme poverty. Francis's own garment has survived to this day and is on display in the Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy, a ragged and patched example of the poorest possible clothing a man might chose to wear.
St. Francis was concerned that the habit should reflect both the interior disposition of the friar and give a powerful exterior testimony of the monk's purpose. One popular Franciscan legend tells of the saint taking his companions into a town to preach. After they entered the village, they then turned around and left in silence. One of the brothers asked when the preaching was going to commence. Francis pointed to his habit and said that it already was complete."


Anonymous said...

I got to see that habit in person last week when I was in Assisi! Such a great expression of humility.

Margaret Mary said...

I queued this post last winter sometime when I was reading that book. I like the timing of your trip with the publishing of the post!

Molly said...

An especially wonderful testimony given St Francis was the son of a fabric merchant and used to fine clothing!