fleur nabert sculpteur reliquaire du manteau de saint françois d'assise vue d'ensemble paris

Reliquary of saint Francis of Assisi mantle

Paris 14

In the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi offered his mantle to Queen Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, who aspired to the same spirit of poverty and charity. When he died, the mantle was entrusted to King Saint Louis who handed it over to the Franciscan friars. After being protected during the Revolution, then during the Commune, it was entrusted to the Capuchins of Paris who still keep it today.

The project to create a monstrance for this relic was guided by three words simplicity, sobriety, dignity. Simplicity of the shape of a bronze and glass cube that would let the eye penetrate. Sobriety of the symbols and the folded placement of the coat to protect its fragility. Dignity of the case, created in a noble material, to receive a piece of fabric loaded with symbols that has come down to us after eight centuries of history.

The mantle thus appears on two rosewood uprights like two arms in a gesture of offering. These arms are those of Francis offering his mantle to a poor person, then those of Saint Elisabeth receiving it, those of Saint Louis giving it to the Franciscans, and finally those of the Capuchins offering it for veneration today. Just in front, takes place a bronze olive tree because the first gift of Saint Francis to those he met was that of peace. At his feet, the crown of thorns of Christ recalls the stigmata received by the Saint and the crown of Saint Elizabeth the one through whom the mantle has come down to us. It is adorned with carved roses to recall the episode when, caught in the process of distributing bread to the poor by her husband who had forbidden her, an armful of roses escaped from her coat.

Beyond the simple fabric, it is of course the spirit of charity of Saint Francis, which is embodied here in a mantle of mercy “O Lord, whom I do not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to to be understood only to understand, to be loved than to love.”