Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is responsible for creating a dramatic religious canvas entitled Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. The painting is thought to be from around 1596 and forms part of the National Gallery’s collection. It depicts Saint Francis in ecstasy with wounds on his hands, feet, and side while receiving the stigmata.
The painting is admired for its visual impact due to its use of intense light and shadow. It creates a feeling of emotional depth, emphasizing spirituality over realism. Caravaggio successfully captures the idea of divine intervention with his work’s titular subject depicted in mid-air, surrounded by an ethereal glow.
Unfortunately, this famous painting was not immune to controversy. There have been claims that it could have led some people to consider self-mutilation in effort to receive similar stigmata markings during times when faith was frequently manipulated as superstition or fanaticism. While those allegations have never been firmly established, what remains undeniable is the sheer genius of Caravaggio’s artistic vision that speaks volumes on a spiritual level about humanity centuries later.