From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.
Although virtually the whole of St. Francis’ life conformed to that of Christ, there was no single incident that more dramatically revealed this identification than the miraculous happenings of September 1224. Following in the footsteps of Jesus before his temptation in the desert, St. Francis retired from the community of men and remained in solitude upon Alvernia, a mountain in Tuscany, for forty days. At the end of his mountain retreat, he was overcome by a vision: a seraph with six wings appeared before him and between its wings he beheld the crucified Christ. The effect of St. Francis’ epiphany was deep. Not only did he feel a new eagerness to serve Christ, but Francis’ body was suddenly refigured into a likeness of the crucified Christ - his hands and feet bled as though run through with nails, his side was scarred as though pierced with a lance. The appearance of the marks (stigmata) of Christ testified to the profound affinity - of body, mind, and soul - between Francis and his Saviour.
Canadian Heritage Information Network, The Provincial Museum of Alberta,