St. Francis is the most important icon of Santa Fe and its surrounding areas. Two major American towns were named for St. Francis of Assisi: San Francisco, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1610, when Don Pedro de Peralta founded the site for Philip III of Spain, the official name was “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis” (The Royal Village of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi). The cathedral in Santa Fe, at the east end of San Francisco Street, is the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.
Not only is St. Francis the patron saint of Santa Fe, New Mexico but he was also decreed to be the patron saint of Italy by Pope Pius XII on 18 June 1939. Following the establishment of his Holy Order, the Franciscans, a religious Order for like-minded women was established by who would later come to be known as St. Claire of Assisi. From his poem, Canticle of the Sun, Francis and Claire adopted the nicknames Brother Sun and Sister Moon.
Painting styles: Surrealism, Impressionism, Fauve Impressionism, Realism
Composition style: Art Deco and religious icon
Composition details: The familiar garden statue of St. Francis morphs into the “energy” of the actual saint. His companions in the statue are two doves and a wolf. These are shown in many garden statues of St. Francis. From a book written after his death, Fioretti di San Francesco d’Assisi (The Little Flowers of Saint Francis - a florilegium – a collection of excerpts – divided into 53 short chapters) comes the imagery of the wolf (The Wolf of Gubbio) and “my sisters, the birds.” Of the 5 species of birds that are native to the Umbria region of Italy where St. Francis lived, I have included three: the Mourning dove, the Black-capped Chickadee and the Blue Titmouse.
In keeping with the Art Deco style of the composition, I have included significant Egyptian imagery for the sun: both upper corners exhibit the symbol for the Sun God Ra (always shown with open hands at the end of each ray to convey the message that “God only gives and never takes”) and the Winged Solar Disc (the ancient symbol for the eternal soul and later adopted by the Masons, Rosicrucians and the Unity movement, as well as “corporate” images for Harley-Davidson and Chrysler).
The halo around the head of St. Francis is taken from the symbol for the “Solar Cross”, a design often used in Orthodox Christian Reliquaries.
The most obvious “sun” symbol in the composition is the Sunflower, shown spreading its warmth and message of “always facing the Sun” throughout the garden.
The hand positions for St. Francis in the painting come from an ancient tradition of the priests separating their third and fourth fingers while praying so the blessings of the Divine could be channeled through them onto the earth plane and/or assembled worshippers.
The fourth icon in my series of Santa Fe icons will be my “homage” to Georgia O’Keeffe and will be titled “Reluctant Godmother.”