October 4 is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved saints of all time and - among many more - patron saint of animals, the environment, Italy, the city of San Francisco, California, and the state of Colorado. Iconography usually portrays St. Francis with stigmata on his hands and feet; the Franciscan friar depicted in this illumination does not bear visible stigmata, but his faint golden halo and the theme of Death do suggest he actually may be the Saint. Images of St. Francis embracing a skeleton, in fact, are frequent in Franciscan art: this is because of his most famous writing, the "The Canticle of the Creatures", a poem in which Francis praises and thanks God for his creations. The Saint does not only thank God for the Sun, the Moon, and the elements - referring to them as Brothers and Sisters - but also praises "Sister Death" as a positive and vital part of life itself.   "Franciscan friar embracing Death", fragment from a choir book with an illuminated initial D, Lewis E M 29:2, 1460, Free Library of Philadelphia.
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