1. The San Damiano Crucifix

The Chapel of La Verna

The San Damiano Crucifix holds a significant place in Christian history, particularly in relation to Saint Francis of Assisi's mystical encounter with it in 1206. Initially hanging in the Church of San Damiano, it became prominent when Jesus allegedly spoke to Francis, urging him to rebuild his house. Francis initially interpreted this as a call to repair the physical church but later realized it symbolized a spiritual renewal of the entire Church. This crucifix, characterized by its Romanic style, emphasizes Christ's victory over death, depicted through his luminous body on the cross. The theological significance lies in portraying Jesus as the perfect high priest offering himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, glorifying the Father and being glorified in return through his death and resurrection. The San Damiano Crucifix encapsulates the conjoined mystery of Jesus glorifying the Father and being glorified by him, inviting contemplation and spiritual reflection.

We dedicated this chapel in the Franciscan tradition in naming it La Verna, where St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, the wounds from the nails and the lance that Christ suffered during his crucifixion. He was one with God. May all who come to the chapel know the love that God has for them and how special they are in his eyes,said Sister Ann Catherine Nguyen FMOL, regional minister for the Congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady

The Journey to FranU

The Chapel at La Verna holds a significant place in the hearts of many, stemming from the profound story of St. Francis receiving the stigmata there. Named after this sacred site, the La Verna Chapel embodies a rich history intertwined with faith and devotion.

Originally a humble structure, the Chapel has undergone remarkable transformations, notably in its size, now standing at an impressive 16 feet compared to its original stature of 6 feet. This expansion reflects not only physical growth but also the deepening reverence for its purpose.

The arrival of the Chapel on December 16th, 2022, marked a momentous occasion, made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Board of Trustees and the dedication of Brother Ed, whose connections in Germany facilitated its creation.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Dubos family for their support, acknowledging their pivotal role in bringing the Chapel to fruition. Their generosity is a testament to the enduring spirit of community and shared faith.

As we reflect on this journey, we invite you to explore the press release for further insights into the remarkable journey of the La Verna Chapel.

In the details

Nonetheless, “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:31–34).

The San Damiano Crucifix intricately depicts the theological significance of blood and water flowing from Jesus' side, symbolizing the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. The crucifix portrays Jesus as the ultimate source of everlasting life through his sacrificial death and resurrection, inviting believers to partake in his divine grace.

Furthermore, Jesus is depicted with a golden halo bearing a cross, symbolizing his triumph over sin and death. His presence heralds the dawn of a new creation, where he reigns as the King of Glory. Jesus embodies the new creation, with his body radiating the light of resurrection and his breath symbolizing the inauguration of a new spiritual reality.

The crucifix also features a rooster, symbolizing the announcement of the everlasting dawn of the new creation. Jesus's open eyes and outstretched arms beckon believers to come near and abide in him, promising eternal life to those who believe in him. Ultimately, the San Damiano Crucifix encapsulates the profound theological truths of redemption, renewal, and eternal life through Jesus Christ.

The Loincloth

Descending further, we observe the white loincloth encircling Jesus's waist on the San Damiano Crucifix, adorned with golden sprays and fastened by a golden cincture tied with a triple knot. The use of a loincloth became prevalent in Byzantium and Western Europe after iconoclasm, particularly during the period when the San Damiano Cross was painted in the late ninth and tenth centuries.

This loincloth, reminiscent of a priest's garment, symbolizes the sinlessness of Jesus's humanity, depicted in white. The golden sprays signify that Jesus's sinless humanity is divine, as he is the incarnate Son of God. As the great high priest, Jesus offers his pure humanity to the Father, and his divine blood purifies from sin and grants divine life. The golden threefold knot symbolizes the Trinity, with each knot representing one of the three persons. The unity of these knots into one threefold knot signifies the shared divine nature of the Trinity.

The Rondel

The Roundel, featured on the San Damiano Cross, depicts key aspects of Jesus's resurrection and ascension.

At the top, Jesus ascends above the crucifixion scene, symbolizing his rising from the empty tomb. He wears a light blue tunic and a red stole, signifying his role as priest and sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. Holding a golden cross-shaped crosier, he triumphs over death.

A golden halo marks his head, representing his majesty as risen Lord. The Father's blessing hand, shaped as a half-circle, extends from heaven, welcoming Jesus into his presence. Ten heavenly angels, with golden halos, rejoice at his appearance, inviting viewers to join in praise.

Those Surrounding Jesus

Let's examine the figures surrounding Jesus on the San Damiano Cross:

- On Jesus' right side stand Mary, his mother, and John, the beloved disciple, both adorned with golden halos, pointing towards Jesus. They joyfully contemplate the salvific work of Jesus and their mutual relationship established by him.

- Mary and John are showered with blood and water flowing from Jesus' side, symbolizing the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, inviting believers into communion with Jesus and his Church.

- On Jesus' left side, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, and the centurion are depicted, all engaging in joyful conversation. Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the resurrected Jesus, rejoices in her salvation, while Mary the wife of Clopas exults in witnessing Jesus' death and resurrection.

- The centurion, likely Longinus, holds a book and symbolizes the profession of Jesus as the Son of God, while also representing the soldier who pierced Jesus' side with a spear. This portrayal combines elements from both Synoptic and Johannine accounts.

- Two unnamed figures, one possibly offering vinegar and the other traditionally identified as Stephaton, stand nearby, urging observers to focus on Jesus.

- An enigmatic figure with a frowning expression overlooks the centurion's shoulder, possibly representing disbelief in Jesus' identity.

- Six angels surround Jesus, pointing towards him and engaging in conversation, inviting observers to contemplate his presence.

The figures surrounding Jesus on the San Damiano Cross symbolize various aspects of faith, salvation, and witness to the crucified and risen Lord.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian

St. Cosmas and St. Damian, depicted in a corner, were doctors. Their presence highlights Jesus as the ultimate healer, offering eternal life to those who believe. This imagery emphasizes the central theme of the San Damiano Cross: Jesus drawing people to himself for eternal salvation.