Rules of the Order are approved by Christ

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Date
Authors
Cristoforo Prestinari
Keyword
St. Francis , Obedience , Vision , Brothers , Disciples , Franciscan Order
Abstract
As the Franciscan Order continued to grow, some of its members began to believe that it would be impossible to maintain the austere lifestyle modeled by their leader. Led by Brother Elia, one of Francis' first followers, they asked the saint to ease the rules of the order. When Francis prayed about this, he heard the voice of Christ respond: "Francis, these rules have nothing of you in them, they express my will alone, and I wish them to be followed just as they are." Chapel Twelve shows this moment of divine approval of the Franciscan way of life. Francis is shown on the right-hand side of the group, kneeling with his arms partially outstretched while he looks up toward heaven. One of the stigmata is visible on Francis' left foot. Since Francis' had not yet received the miraculous Christ-like wounds yet, this is probably the result of a subsequent restoration and would not have been present originally. The chapel was constructed at the end of the sixteenth century (1591 - 1597) with funds donated by a group of local citizens living in Rome, so it became known as the Chapel of the Romans. It was the first chapel to be built at Orta. The sculptures were made by Cristoforo Prestinari (1573 - 1623) and his workshop. They were finished by 1617 and had been fired onsite in a kiln that Prestinari's team constructed in 1606. The frescoes were painted in 1618, perhaps by Giacomo Filippo Monti (dates unknown), a local artist from Orta. A rectangular porch was added to the cylindrical chapel the following year. In 1772 the original frescoes were completely covered by a new set of paintings by Giovanni Battista Cantalupi (1732 - 1780), who was from the nearby town of Miasino. During this period, Cantalupi also completed a number of commissions for the Basilica on Isola San Giulio, which is a prominent part of the landscape seen from Orta's Sacro Monte. / Orta is the second oldest Sacro Monte. Construction began on the chapels there in 1591, just over a hundred years after the first Sacro Monte site was established at nearby Varallo. A community of Capuchin friars lived on the mountain, oversaw construction, and guided visitors on their pilgrimages once the chapels were finished. One of the brothers, Cleto da Castelletto Ticino (1556 - 1619) designed a series of thirty-six mysteries for the site, although only twenty chapels were ever completed. Before joining the Capuchin Order, Cleto had trained as an architect and engineer. After construction began at Orta, he also worked alongside Pellegrino Tibaldi (1527 - 1596), one of Carlo Borromeo's favorite architects. Amico Canobio (1532 - 1592), a Benedictine Abbot and Commissioner of the secular lands within the diocese of Novara, oversaw Cleto's work and was the first major patron of the chapels at Orta. Carlo Bascapè (1550 - 1615) took charge of directing the progress at Orta as soon he was named Bishop of Novara in 1593, the year after Canobio's death.
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