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The inside wall of the north transept is also decorated with a wall panel featuring rich tracery elements. Like the panel in the south transept, this panel was designed by the cathedral’s head architect at the time, Ernst Friedrich Zwirner. However, the figural sculptures planned for the panel were never made because the panel was hidden by an organ that stood in front of it. This organ was destroyed in the Second World War and was replaced by a new organ on the north side of the choir in 1948.
Saints depicted in Cologne Cathedral
St Francis of Assisi
Francis was born in Assisi, the son of the merchant Pietro Bernardone and the Frenchwoman Joanna Pica. Although he was christened Giovanni, he was known throughout his life as Francesco (the little Frenchman). At the age of 20, Francis, who wanted to become a knight, took part in the war between the cities of Assisi and Perugia. In the course of the war, he was taken prisoner and spent one year in captivity, during which time he became very ill.
In the year 1205, Christ appeared to him and instructed him to rebuild the small, dilapidated church of St Damian. Francis sold a number of his father’s bales of material and gave the proceeds to the priest of St Damian’s. Outraged, his father insisted that Francis either pay back the money or forgo his inheritance. Francis returned everything and gave up his inheritance. Leaving behind all the clothes his father had given him, he stripped naked and left the city. Inspired by the words of the Gospel of St Luke (‘Take neither purse, nor bag, nor shoes’), he decided to pursue a life of poverty. Francis soon acquired a number of followers, all of whom took a vow of poverty and travelled with him through Umbria, preaching wherever they went. In 1210, Pope Innocent III granted him permission to found a new religious order, the Franciscans or Order of Friars Minor. Together with St Clare of Assisi, St Francis founded the Order of St Clare (Poor Clares). Through these two orders, St Francis influenced both Church and society like very few others before or since.
St Francis is one of the most frequently portrayed of all saints. He is generally shown wearing a simple hooded habit. His attributes include a crucifix, a skull, a globe, a sovereign's orb, a lily, a lamb, or a wolf.
Feast-day: 4 October