When travelling to Italy, a must-see destination is Assisi, St. Francis city.
St. Francis lived in the 13th century and he is one of the most beloved figures in the world for having abandoned his family’s wealth to live as a poor friar. He embraced poverty, prayed for peace, in the nature of the Umbrian hills.
Franciscan scholar Kevin Elphick reported that many friars used to refer to St. Francis as “Mother“, that the Saint himself dreamt of the Holy Trinity with three ladies; he left a woman enter his confraternity calling her “Brother Jacoba“; his partner in ministry was a woman, Clare, whose hair were cut the Franciscan style.
Francis embraced outcasts and nature, as the “Canticle of the Sun” celebrates. In 1991, a New Jersey doctor, who worked with AIDS patients, commissioned a painting in which Jesus is taking down from the Cross by St Francis. Jesus is identified as an outcast and the two gaze to each other with unspeakable love.
During his life, St Francis has a true soulmate, Brother Elias of Cortona, who shared with him many important moments, such St Francis homecoming in Assisi. Their affection seemed to be very intense, nevertheless, it is impossible to name it as “gay” or “homosexual” as these words identifying modern categories. He was a medieval “homoaffectional” man, who named himself “Lady Poverty”, when he dreamt the Trinity by three ladies. He is represented when marrying an hypothetical lady, in fact called “Lady Poverty”, by painter Sassetta.
Another queer image of St. Francis connects with a Sultan, during the Fifth Crusade in Egypt. He is represented when kissing the Sultan. This image is controvertial, as the friar was in a crusade to convert muslims and the meaning of this kiss is uncertain: just a sign of peace between the Christian and the Muslim culture or anything different?
After his death, St Francis was declared saint by Pope Gregory XI.
The queer side of St. Francis manifested also outside of Christianity: he is venerated in Africa as Orunmia, the orisha of wisdom, patron of animals, trangenders and same-sex eroticism.
© Photo Pixabay