The bishop holds him
like a child
And in his nakedness
we see our own condition
This poem takes its inspiration from the moment in St. Francis of Assisi’s life when he renounced his father dramatically by literally stripping off all his clothes (which belonged to his father), leaving Francis naked.
You can see Francis on the right in this painting by Sasseta.
The local bishop is helping to retain the dignity of the emotional and dramatic Francis.
When I saw this painting for the first time, I was struck by how very childlike St. Francis seems – he is held by the bishop the way a father holds a baby.
We are all like Francis in that one respect, at least. Behind whatever roles we play, we are all “without pretence” in the basic nakedness of our human condition.
But it is also a condition that is “open to grace”