In Francis’s understanding of the Passion there was a centrality to the generosity and gratuitously diffusive and life-giving self-gift of the good God. Here is the touchstone of Francis’s post-conversion aesthetic. And in looking at the specific expression of this in the San Damiano crucifix, there can be seen the utter self-emptying of the Cross, though in the broader context of divine victory, wherein Christ can smirk and ascend in glory. The Cross seen in this light reveals the beauty of God.
For Francis, to rejoice in the works of the Lord would be all-compassing, the tension between the beauty of creation and the beauty of the Cross seen as not a tension at all, but as the same glorious diffusion of the divine goodness. He could see that at the heart of the garden of the world stands the tree of the Cross.
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