Never underestimate the effect of an image on the memory and imagination of a little child. Long before a child learns to read, he begins to receive deeply the impressions of the pictures that surround him.
An image of the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi profoundly marked my childhood. The image was in a stained–glass window shining with jewel-like colors in the south transept of my beautiful parish church, named for Saint Francis, in New Haven, Connecticut. I only regret that I don’t have a photo of that stained-glass window.
Later on, after I learned to read, I discovered in my Daily Missal the Collect for the Commemoration of the Holy Stigmata celebrated on September 17th. It remains, to this day, a prayer that speaks to my heart. My dear friends, the Poor Ladies of Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia, pray this Collect when they rise for Matins in the middle of the night. It is, in effect, a prayer for the dark and cold hours of life.
Lord Jesus Christ,
who didst reproduce,
in the flesh of the most blessed Francis,