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They were crying from the tenderness of their love for Jesus, and they worshipped and adored the emblem. Visual representations of the emblem were widely dispersed in Siena and can be found at many Franciscan sites throughout Italy. Here Francis is presented as a second Christ, as in the stigmata scene or the funeral and assumption scene; as a missionary, as in the trial by fire before the sultan; and as a founder of an order, as in the approval of the rule. Sometimes he is not represented at all, as in the martyrdom of the Franciscans in Morocco. This change in emphasis finds expression in the sermon tradition as well.

While fourteenth century presentations would emphasize the personal merits of Francis, by the fifteenth century the institutional aspects of his mission as founder of a religious order had become dominant. Franciscan preachers and followers of Bernadine of Siena, such as St. John of Capestrano and St. Francis in Franciscan sermons of the fifteenth century, see R.

In most of the sermon cycles delivered by Franciscan preachers active in Florence in the late fifteenth century, such as St.

Bernadine of Feltre, Bl. Robert of Lecce, and Bl. Michael of Carcano, the character and miracles of Bernadine drew greater attention than Francis himself. In the pulpit relief, an arch draws attention to the sultan, seated at the center. He wears a dignified gown and his hat is the focal point of the scene. Burnett and A.

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The Franciscan delegation is off to the side, and Francis appears small and humble with a simple halo around his head. This scene takes place in a fine architectural setting, based upon Florentine ecclesiastical architecture. The familiar setting has the effect of reducing the distance between the Florentine spectators and the Muslims, who are not depicted as foreigners; two attractive balconies with intriguing spectators complete the setting Fig.

On the whole, the few examples from Santa Croce show us the importance of this scene to the Franciscan tradition and to the discussion on the value of missionary works at large. It is interesting to compare this same scene as it appears on a later preaching pulpit from the Baroque church of Ognissanti in Florence functioning as a shrine dedicated to the glorification of Franciscan saints in the age of reform. Here visual propaganda was being advocated by the Observant Franciscans who resided at Ognissanti to advocate the life of the founder of their order and other Franciscan saints.

A special emphasis should be placed on examining the visual features of the church of Ognissanti in comparison with the earlier Franciscan house of Santa Croce in Florence and on the ways in which traditional values advocated by the early Franciscans found new form and were given diverse emphasis by the reformed branch of the order in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The Church of Ognissanti was originally founded by the lay order of the Humiliati Fig. The first church of Ognissanti was completed in and by the fourteenth century it was part of one of the largest monasteries belonging to the Humiliati order. Zanoni, Gli Umiliati Milan: Hoepli, The rebuilt Ognissanti was among the first examples of Baroque architecture to appear in Florence.

The current appearance of the church was largely due to the renovations introduced by the Observants. New chapels were introduced into the church and older chapels were reconstructed under the patronage of various Florentine families. Many of the newly constructed chapels were dedicated to Franciscan Observant saints, including St. Bernadine of Siena and St. John of Capestrano, and to Franciscan female saints such as St.

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Rose of Viterbo and St. Clare of Assisi, among others. Other themes emphasized in the Baroque renovations of the church were devotions to and miracles associated with the Eucharist. Batazzi and A. Giusti, Ognissanti Rome: Fratelli Palombi, The pulpit in Ognissanti is a polygonal stone structure decorated with three rectangular panels that depict scenes from the life of Francis of Assisi, which include: the Confirmation of the Franciscan Rule , the Stigmatization of St. Francis , and St. Francis before the Sultan ca. This work is remarkable for the high quality of its execution and the fact that it is made of expensive, gilded marble.

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The pulpit is located in the center of the south wall of the nave, where it projects as a balcony between the Altar of St. Francis and the Altar of the Immaculate Conception. The pulpit was constructed during the first stage of renovations at Ognissanti that were begun when the Observants took over the church in It replaced two balconies used for reciting prayers and conducting religious liturgies that, during medieval times when the church belonged to the Humiliati, were attached to a large rood screen which divided the nave. The Franciscan Observants took the complex over in , introducing radical structural and decorative changes in the church.

In , the choir was eliminated, creating the large open space characteristic of the church today. It was only a few years later that the pulpit was constructed, attesting to the importance it held in the eyes of the Observants, who needed a pulpit from which to conduct their sermons and religious services. The pulpit was clearly modeled on the late fifteenth century pulpit in Santa Croce created by Benedetto da Maiano with slight differences.

As in Santa Croce, the cult of St. Francis was central in the church.

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Another factor was that the most important relic in Ognissanti was the habit that Francis wore when he received the stigmata, which was displayed in a special chapel. Numerous works of art in the church were dedicated to the glorification of St. Early in the seventeenth century, the friars decorated their large cloister with frescos showing scenes from the life of Francis by Jacopo Ligozzi, Giovanni da San Giovanni, and others. In these episodes Francis is portrayed as an alter Christus , with his life paralleling that of Christ. By selecting this iconography to decorate their convent the Observants emphasized a central concept in Franciscan theology dating from the thirteenth century.

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Other themes emphasized include his devotion to the Eucharist, an aspect of his life that also appears at Ognissanti in The Glory of St. Francis Celebrating the Eucharist and that Giuseppe Romei painted on the ceiling of the chapel dedicated to the Eucharist Cappella del Sacro Sacramento. The renewed emphasis on Francis and the numerous works of art dedicated to his cult at Ognissanti including the pulpit were typical of the Franciscan devotion to their founder, especially after the Council of Trent. The ideal of the Franciscan reform movement, which dates from the early fifteenth century, was a return to the original spirit of Francis and his companions.

The Observants expressed a particular interest in reading, collecting, and publishing new anthologies of Franciscan texts, along with preparing new, vernacular redactions of Latin sources. Franciscan preachers in general were devoted to the figure of Francis and advocated his concept of the imitatio Christi. Successful preachers, among them Cornelio Musso and Francesco Panigarola, circulated exemplary sermons on Francis.

Franciscan art in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries stressed the role of St.

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Francis as a Catholic Reformation saint who symbolized the essence of Catholicism. The scene of his trial by fire before the sultan was accorded special attention and it does appear on the Ognissanti pulpit. Other popular scenes from his life were, first, his vision of St. Dominic and of the meeting between the two saints as a sign of unity among the Catholic orders and, second, Christ speaking to Francis via a painted crucifix in the ruined church of San Damiano in Assisi, which symbolized the call for Catholic renewal.

With its narrative emphasis on Francis and his holy acts, the Ognissanti pulpit continues the tradition of its sculpted precedent at Santa Croce by Benedetto da Maiano. At Ognissanti, it appears on the pulpit and in the cycle of frescoes in the cloister, indicating the centrality of this story and the ethos of Francis as a missionary in the Franciscan tradition.


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The Ognissanti depiction is very similar to the Santa Croce pulpit in both its general conception and details. In short, the pulpit in the church of Ognissanti was closely based on the pulpit in Santa Croce in its form, location, and iconography. These similarities highlight the continuity between the medieval Franciscan tradition and its emphasis on preaching and devotion to St.

Francis into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The consonances between the two works also suggest a willingness on the part of the Ognissanti Franciscans to create a visual cohesiveness between their church and Santa Croce and in particular the continuation of the depiction of the scene of St. Francis before the Sultan in the Franciscan artistic tradition. Turning to St.

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The frail and sickly Clare is often portrayed holding up the monstrance while standing in the doorway of the dormitory and striking the Saracen troops below with the brilliance of the Eucharist. In the hagiographic tradition the story of the expulsion of the Saracens from Assisi is prominent, serving as major evidence for her spiritual powers. Thomas of Celano. The story describes the Saracen troops invading San Damiano and entering the confines of the monastery, even the very cloister of the nuns. The women swoon in terror, crying out to their mother, St.

She commands them to lead her, sick as she is, to the enemy, preceded by a silver and ivory case in which the body of Christ is kept. Your defenseless handmaids, whom I have taught out of love for you? I pray you, Lord, protect these handmaids, whom I cannot now save by myself. New York: New City Press, , , , , — See also N. In this early Franciscan literature, St. Clare is presented as the heroine of her city, the civic saint who rescued the citizens of Assisi from its enemies.

Moreover, in these accounts, Clare is presented as a saint almost equivalent to Francis in her powers and authority. Thus her dialogue with Christ is presented as equivalent to a similar dialogue that Francis had with Christ, speaking through the cross in the ruined church of San Damiano, and the encounter of St.

Clare with the Saracen mercenaries as equivalent to St. The most important association of this episode is with mission and martyrdom. In the hagiography, it is reported that when Clare learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco in , she tried to go there to give her life for God but was restrained from doing so. See A. Vauchez, Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages , trans. Birrell Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , 51— Another reference for St. Anthony of Padua, upon seeing the bodies of the martyred friars, had a spiritual experience that caused him to join the Franciscans.