The painted panel crucifixes of the early Franciscans as a response to the Cathar Heresy
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While there is plentiful research on the early art of the Franciscan religious order, few authors have examined the reasons underlying the shift to a more graphically physical depiction of the suffering of Jesus that occurred in crucifixion art during the thirteenth century. This thesis deals with the increased use of the Christus Patiens iconography as a theological response to the Cathar heresy, a dualist and Docetist belief which was prevalent in the central region of Italy during the time of Francis of Assisi. The Italian duecento crucifixes that depict the saint at the foot of the cross are considered along with their Byzantine origins and the writings of the early Franciscan authors: Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, and Pseudo-Bonaventure.