Florida Friars Celebrate 800th With Art

Roy Gasnick, OFM Friar News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Five large original paintings, recalling the impact following the year of 1209 when Francis and his first companions received the approval of our Franciscan way of life from Pope Innocent III, will be blessed and dedicated by guardian James Toal, OFM, during a dinner at St. Anthony’s Friary here on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis.

Miguel Loredo, OFM
, recently completed the paintings, which now hang on the back wall of the friary dining room.

The first painting is a prelude, painted in Miguel’s preferred style of “lyrical abstractionism,” “suggesting something of an urban landscape that could be Assisi in the thirteenth century,” Miguel said. The next three paintings are full-length realistic portraits.

His painting of St. Anthony (patron of the friary) is unusual. Looking back to the original iconography of the saint, he presents him as having the Book of the Gospels on an altar in front of him while he preaches with flames of fire in left hand, “indicating how on fire he is by God’s word and his message to people”, as Miguel notes. “In his right hand,” Miguel said, “he holds the letter from St. Francis approving him as a teacher of theology in the Order.”

Miguel portrays St. Clare as a mature woman, in her early 50s. It seems she has already weathered many storms, and it shows in her face. She holds a small Ciborium containing the Eucharist, recalling the legend of how she stopped a Saracen invasion of Assisi.

Miguel’s Francis is Francis right after recieving the stigma at La Verna.

“In the background,” Miguel said, “is a small wall of fire indicating the mystery he had just experienced. I used Celano’s description of Francis here as a guide for his appearance. In his right hand, he holds ‘The Praises of God,’ and ‘A Blessing For Br. Leo’ which he had just written at La Verna. His left hand is pressing the Gospel to his breast, incorporating both the Gospel and the stigmata into his life.”

The last painting is also an abstactionism. Miguel said, “It is a nuance of the colors of the three portraits bringing a conclusion to the work.”

In addition to this 800th event, the friars will celebrate a community Mass at 10:30 a.m. James Toal will be the presider and the homilist. The Mass will be followed by preprandials and then the festive dinner at 12:30 p.m. More than 20 guests are expected. Guests were invited by the individual members of the friary community.

— Fr. Roy, a resident of St. Anthony’s Friary in St. Petersburg, wrote The Francis Book in 1980.