by Nicolás Arispe

St. Francis of Assisi

Mark was undoubtedly the Evangelist who best showed the toughest face of Jesus. Just think of the passage in which the Pharisees ask the disciples why the Master sits at the same table with sinners of all sorts. On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2: 16-17).
Jesus used to treat sinners benevolently, whereas he led the righteous with an iron hand and demanded a model behaviour from them.
Of all the saints, St. Francis of Assisi was the one who best learned this lesson.
He lived as a beggar, in extreme poverty. He abandoned both material and moral complexities: while the great Catholic thinkers conceived hermetic philosophical treatises that would find their greatest exponent in St. Thomas Aquinas, Francis said mass to the birds.
He led a model ascetic life.
But this did not seem to be enough on his way to humility: he wanted to be a martyr.
Several passages of the Fioretti deal with his desire to be martyred. At that point, given that his Church had already spoken out against this practice on several occasions, his sounded like a nostalgic desire.
However, he tried: he embarked on daring journeys to meet the sultans of Morocco and Egypt and let them know his ideas. He never reached Morocco because, after he arrived in Spain, he fell ill and was forced to return.
He managed to get to Egypt, but there he found a tolerant and cultured monarch who not only listened to him carefully, but also allowed him to preach freely in his lands.
In the Eastern world, Francis was only a witness to the disaster caused by the Crusades.
Upon his return, he practically became a hermit.
Two years before he died, he went into a trance while he was praying and got what he wanted: the mark of martyrdom par excellence, Christ’s stigmata. Francis received them as a divine gift - how could it be otherwise?
He had made it so that God himself was compelled to show who his favorite saint was, granting him the greatest honor.


The stories of nineteen ancient martyrs told in an almost aseptic language and medieval style images
in an original book capable of blending the high and the low, the sordid and the mystical,
ancient icons and modern cultural references in a hermeneutics of martyrdom and punishment.

by Nicolás Arispe
hardcover, 88 pages, 110x148 mm
ISBN: 9788857610498