The Tau of Saint Francis
San Bonaventura da Bagnoregio in Legenda Maior and Legenda Minor narrated some episodes where TAU and Francesco are described.
LEGEND MAIOR (Life of St. Francis of Assisi)
The Saint had great veneration and affection for the sign of Tau; he often wrote it as his sign on the letters he sent, as if his mission consisted, according to the prophet’s words, in converting by the simbol of Tau, all the men who moan and cry to Christ.
An inhabitant of Cori, in the diocese of Ostia, had totally lost the use of the leg and could not walk or move. Finding himself in such grave distress and despairing of human help, one night he presented his complaints to St. Francis: “O Saint Francis, help me. Do not you remember the service I gave you and the devotion I’ve always shown you? I have brought you on my back, I have kissed your sacred feet and your sacred hands; I have always been devoted to you, I have always been generous with you: and now I am dying among these cruel torments”. Driven by these laments, the Saint immediately realized that he did not forget the benefits received and he was grateful to his devotees. He told him that he had come to his call and that he had the medicine to heal him. He touched the injured part with a stick in the shape of Tau, bursting the tumor and giving him perfect health. But he did something even more wonderful: he left the sacred sign of the Tau on the spot where the wound had been healed, in memory of the miracle. This was the sign with which St. Francis signed his letters, whenever charity urged him to send some missives.
LEGENDA MINOR (Short Life of St. Francis) OF SAN BONAVENTURA DA BAGNOREGIO
LESSON IX 1347
A friar named Pacifico, when he was still young, met the servant of the Lord, who was preaching in a monastery near the village of San Severino.
When the Lord’s hand fell upon him, he saw Francis marked in the form of a cross by two splendid swords, placed transversely: one of the swords stretched from head to feet and one extended from one hand to the other, through the chest. He did not know Francis in person, but he recognized him immediately, after that miraculous vision. Strongly amazed by the strength of his fact, he joined the blessed father through the profession of his own life. Later, he progressed in every form of holiness proper to religious life and became minister of the Order in France – in fact he was the first man to exercise the office of minister in that country. But, first, he deserved to see on the forehead of Francis a great Tau, who stood out for the variety of colors and made his face wonderfully beautiful and adorned.