A feast of love: visual images of Francis of Assisi and Mary Magdalen and late medieval mendicant devotion

Claire Frances Renkin

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Abstract

More specifically the portrayal of Francis at the foot of the cross became a popular iconographic theme in art of the late Middle Ages.6 As scholars have remarked, the devotional presence of Francis at the Crucifixion underlines Francis’s spiritual dedication to the Passion and the crucified Christ. In addition to images which feature Francis and the Magdalen at the Cross, further instances of the inclusion of both saints in altarpieces and devotional paintings were common throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This chapter draws attention to several paintings which depict both saints in narrative scenes from their lives. For Francis it is the familiar scene of The Stigmatisation of St Francis and for the Magdalen the episode associated with her legendary thirty years spent in the wilderness of Southern France, traditionally identified as The Ecstasy of the Magdalen. Both subjects emphasise the two saints not in timeless attitudes of devotion to the Passion. Instead through the device of visual pairing of events from their respective vitae, these altarpieces focus the viewer’s gaze on Francis and the Magdalen as exemplars of every Christian’s desire: to achieve union with Christ.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPoverty and Devotion in Mendicant Cultures 1200-1450
EditorsConstant J. Mews, Anna Welch
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter6
Pages92-104
Number of pages12
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781315601755
ISBN (Print)9781472437327
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameChurch Faith and Culture in the Medieval West
PublisherRoutledge

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