San Damiano crucifix marks first official element of altar restoration

You’ve probably noticed the photos taped up behind the altar and have heard about the Altar Restoration for the past several months. The altar is the focal point for our liturgical celebrations and just like every aspect of a well-designed church, it is designed to bring glory to God.

In an effort to glorify God just a little more and strengthen our roots in St. Francis, the parish has been working to update our very own altar by going back in time to embrace the simple aesthetic of St. Francis himself as reflected in the design of the San Damiano crucifix.

The San Damiano cross dates back to the 12th Century and was painted by an artist from Umbria, the region where Francis’ hometown of Assisi is located. It was from the San Damiano crucifix that Christ uttered the words: “Go repair my Church, which you see is falling completely in ruin.” Those words spurred Francis to repair nearby churches but ultimately led him to the founding of the Franciscan Order.

The vision is to pay tribute to St. Francis and his faith in Christ so that we may be inspired to live by the same virtues. “The new altar will be simple and in the spirit of St. Francis through the lens of his very first calling by Christ,” said Fr. Chris.

Our current altar and the majority of its liturgical furnishings have been in place for nearly 50 years. The new design includes three beautiful, handcrafted mosaics behind the altar, along with new furnishings including a wooden altar, new seating and new lector.

The first visible addition of the new altar is the addition of the San Damiano crucifix. The cross is filled with symbolisms including the portrayal of Christ as God himself rather than as the figure of Christ as a corpse. This shows God as incorruptible unto eternity and the source of life, radiating the hope of the Resurrection.

On the cross, the Savior looks regal and strong and with a direct gaze that is compassionate. Rather than hanging on the cross he appears to support it, standing in full stature. His hands are spread out serenely in an attitude of both supplication and blessing, which further emphasizes the tranquil and gentle expression of Christ.