One of Giotto di Bondone’s paintings of St. Francis of Assisi in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, depicts Francis sharing his cloak with a poor knight. Referring to this artwork during a presentation at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, made one very interesting observation.
In reflecting on the meaning of the artwork, the words she used struck me: “In this scene, a young Francis, still dressed comfortably, encounters a poor knight and without hesitation, removes his cloak and offers it to him. In this moment of spontaneous generosity, the legend accounts . . . he gives away what he owns to someone who is impoverished and he affirms the dignity of one who has been humiliated by the events of life.”
What a beautiful description of mercy! Mercy affirms the dignity of one who has been humiliated by the events of life. Let us, too, affirm the dignity of others as we perform our own works of mercy.