Saint Francis Excoriates the Evil
Saint Francis is the founder of the Franciscan Order. Founding orders which opposes the mainstream of the church was not very rare, as there were also Augustinians, Templers, etc.
The Franciscans yearned the ideal of modesty. They used to ask for donations; live in egalitarian societies while withdrawing their own property and live very meager life. They used to abstain life enjoyments and family raising.
Giotto had shown so much disrespect to the Franciscan beliefs, that I couldn’t help but being bothered by it. The irony is just increasing when considering he did not only work for the order, but was especially hired to glorify these beliefs. Let me go over some signs of the mocking in his pictures.
In the picture “Exorcism of the Demons at Arezzo”, saint Francis is supposedly excoriating the demons from the vast church. Instead, you may find his hand caressing a woman’s face. Even if you do not agree with the thesis of the caressing, you definitely cannot ignore the skull hung under his wrist.
You should pay attention to the blood accompanying the monk while coming out the door. Why are his legs accompanied with blood? Is he a part of the demons being excoriated?
I believe that the blood is a motive. It was an era in which religious disagreements let to bloody conflicts. I believe Giotto tried to emphasize that this distribution is leading to a morbid bloodshed; though every group holds a theory whom wish justice and by the same Jesus.
Any kind of criticism like this probably awarded him with some serious sleep deprivation. Giotto was very afraid at that time, as I’d like to demonstrate in the following picture.
Saint Francis Dreams of a Palace full of Weapons
During the time of Giotto, the public enjoyed some presumptuous pictures, as they beheld ambiguity that implied some caricatural meaning.
As for my decent view, this worked quite well with this one. The picture does not only make you laugh, but also has a great satirical message that makes you think.
The story of Francis starts with one of the legend of Saint Francis. In this picture, Francis wanted to give away all his property for the church.
Saint Francis believed that the property did not belong to him, but to the monastery.
The father was much less enthusiastic about this new idea, and not only he banished him from his belongings, but also took off his clothes. He then commented with a satisfied smile – “you may donate all you have now”.Saint Francis did not answer, but raised his eyes to the sky, than received God’s commitment for a reward.
There is another picture that for our modern perspective seems very funny. Saint Francis dies, and than comes his surroundings, including servants and wives to search for stigmata (The wounds of crucified Jesus). In other words, the people wanted to know whether or not he pretended being saint. Surprisingly, they’ve found scars. If you ask me, some of them probably found money too.
The scars used as a “proof” for the sanctity of saint Francis. If you look at the people on the right, you may notice that they’re excluded from the main group. If you look up to the sky, you’ll see God’s reaction to this search to be censored. It was quite common in Giotto’s picture to be “taken care of”.
I personally think that some of these people are looking for some money under Francis’s outfit.
To be continued: Saint Francis’ dream.