You are here: Home BROTHER ELIAS’ CODEX Significato della pietra bianca con striscia rossa

Symbolic meaning of the white stone with a red stripe

Prospero Calzolari,
in his book "Massoneria,Francescanesimo, Alchimia" (Masonry, Franciscanism, Alchemy) published by SeaR, and no longer available on the market, offers a mystic-symbolic explanation which we embrace:
These meaningful items are imbued with hermetic-alchemic symbolism, that goes beyond the visible world. Brother Elias had placed the head of Saint Francis on a "cornerstone" which, according to traditional symbolism, for shape and position, symbolizes the principle that the "cornerstone" must become the "caput anguli, the only one left from the whole building and the one "placed at the end of construction".

The same concept is expressed in
Psalm 118, which I quote:
" The stone the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes".

As I have already pointed out in the chapter dedicated to “Brother Elias, fine Scholar of the Royal Art”, his decision to place a > cornerstone < under Francis’ head had certainly been influenced by popular tradition and legend, which saw the Blessed as the stereotype of the apostle > Peter <. In other words, he was regarded as a re-founder of the Church of the origins, since he had tried to reform the corrupted Church that was holding its temporal power through some aristocratic Roman families - like the Colonnas and the Orsinis - who were constantly fighting each other and considered the Church just like another feudal land to divvy up.

Benozzo Gozzoli is one of the painters best able to express this symbolic image. He portrayed Francis together with Elias and all his closest companions when they met Pope Honorius III to present Francis’ "Regula" and get it approved from the Pope. This painting can be seen in the major chapel of the Franciscan church in Montefalco, decorated by Benozzo Gozzoli between 1450 and 1452, with a cycle of frescoes portraying the most important episodes in Saint Francis’ life.

Two episodes are represented in one of the pictures: The Dream of Innocent III and the Approval of the Rule. The first episode shows Pope Innocent III who has a vision of the Lateran Basilica falling down, while poor Francis is trying to hold it up. This ‘premonition’ is the consequence of the story told on the right, in the beautiful scene where, in 1223, Pope Honorius III - successor of Innocent III - approved the Rule of Franciscan Friars, with the papal bull Solet annuere. Historic records are often confused, since they attribute such approval to Innocent III, who actually never officially approved the Rule, but only consented to its ‘testing’.

The cornerstone that Elias had secretly placed > under Francis’ head < means that "he had completed his initiatory path" by following a route that had brought him to rest his head on the "occultum lapidem" – namely the cornerstone - " the last stone". According to brother Elias, who saw "the philosopher’s stone" in him, and considered him as a new Jesus and World Axis, this stone is actually the first one. Francis, with his advent, had completed the Master Work, and opened the world to the new "Age of the Spirit", as predicted by Joachim of Flora, who, following Jewish mysticism, was using "symbols" to represent the "Truth".

Indeed, when survey operations started (on January 26, 1819) to check the contents of the sarcophagus, the experts recorded the following:

Inside the sarcophagus there was “a skeleton with, on its right side and near the head, a stone with a vaguely polygonal shape, and on its left side - between the hip and the shoulder - three round shaped metal segments as big as coins of the so called ‘third size’."

Hence, the polygonal stone was not exactly > under his head <.
On a more accurate examination of the
sarcophagus, a depression can be observed on the floor near the head, which might have caused > the stone to slip down to the right of the head < when the skull lost weight during body decomposition. It might also have been caused by a sudden movement of the sarcophagus while being lowered down into the hole prepared for its final burial.

In the book by
Isidoro Gatti “La tomba di San Francesco nei secoli(Saint Francis’ Tomb over the centuries) published by Casa Editrice Francescana of Assisi, a drawing by Giannantonio Cresti (see Table IX) provides full details of the plan, section, and front view of the sarcophagus and its dimensions. It is evident that under the head the floor was raised by a few centimeters. The pointed 18 cm longer shape on the left is also striking, as if it were pointing at an escape way to the left.

Symbolic meaning of the > red stripe <

With his blood, Francis has traced the primeval track of the New Church, just like Romulus digged the trench for the foundation of Rome.

The vertical, active segment of the cross, runs up to the top of the mountains toward the infinite sky.
The Cross is a cosmic symbol that stirs up the energy of Nature.

The Cross consists of two segments that represent the polarities of existence. The horizontal segment is the negative polarity, namely the matter, the earthly surface separating the two realms - e.g. the underworld from the heavenly realm - and it has a passive nature. The vertical segment, featuring positive polarity, is the interface between the heavenly world and our earthly world. Hence, the cross has an active nature, since it links the bottom to the top. This idea of an active element cutting across a passive element is also associated with fertility: God joins Nature to generate What Is. Therefore, in the idea of fertility - linked to birth-growth-death – we find the > symbol of the cross < that can be linked to the Tree of Life, and which, with its positive energy, represents the Micro-cosmos mirroring the Macro-cosmos.

The two crossing lines and their intersection point represent equilibrium. The two holy pathways: the horizontal one, that can be walked in a material way, and the vertical one, that can be walked in a spiritual way (joining the earth and the sky). Along this pathway, Heaven and Earth, Time and Space are joined. It has both a centripetal and centrifugal force, because it represents diffusion, emanation, as well as concentration, and recapitulation.

Cross also has an ascensional meaning, linked to the idea of  a > bridge < joining the visible to the invisible world, or of a > ladder <, joining together the earthly and the celestial world.
Francis walked the full earthly path, going up Jacob’s ladder step by step, and moving on to the spiritual path. Before that, however, he built a bridge from brother to brother, just like the symbol carved on the 12 coins from Lucca, that Brother Elias has left on Saint Francis’ chest.

It is not by chance that Saint Francis used the symbol of the Cross without its top - > Tau - T <: for its strong symbolic and spiritual power, it is the symbol of defeated death. It refers to the Biblical episode of the bronze snake put on Moses’ pole (Numbers,21,6-9).

The meaning of the Tau shaped Cross has further developed within the Franciscan community which is still keeping this tradition.

During his secular life,
Saint Francis was very close to the religious community of St. Anthony the Hermit, that was taking care of lepers. Its members used to wear a Tau Shaped Cross, symbolizing St. Anthony the Hermit often portrayed with a T-shaped walking stick.
Indeed, in this context, the
Tau Shaped Cross refers to the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet > T < (taf) which has the same meaning of Omega in the Greek alphabet, namely the Completion of God’s Word, and Christ’s coming.
It is also symbol of
Salvation and Election, since Christian exegetes linked it to the mark made by the Jews on their doorframes during the night when the Exterminating Angel stroke Egypt, just before their Exodus (Exodus, 12,1-28), as well as the mark put on the forehead of the "saved" in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel,9,4).

Symbolic meaning of the > cornerstone <

said: "Show me the stone rejected by the builders! It is the cornerstone".

This is one of the sayings contained in the Gospel of Thomas, a codex in Coptic known as the Gnostic Texts of Nag Hammadi – there are about fifty of them - discovered in 1945 and published and divulged as late as in 1972. The term cornerstone comes from an historical expression of Jewish origin (Isaiah, 28,16-17):

"So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.

I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line."

Therefore, one of its many original meanings applies to the head, the leader who holds his people together. However, Kabal’s Zohar is even more intriguing: quoting the Psalms (118, 22) that make up the oldest text where Thomas’ saying is found, it provides the following comment:
The stone (namely the one that has come off God’s throne and fallen into the abyss) rejected by the builders (that is to say the Sefirot of the cosmic building) has become the cornerstone (namely the foundation of the world)"

The same concept, mentioned by Christ, can be found in the canonic Gospels (Matthew, 21,42):
" The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;[a]
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes."

Similar words can be found in Mark (12, 10), Luke (20, 17) and in the Book of Acts (4,11):
" This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone ".

And again in St. Paul (Epistle to the Ephesians, 2, 20), where Christ is > the cornerstone < on which all Apostles and prophets are based, it is the foundation on which Christians are integrated like living stones in a well equipped building that grows like a holy temple.

In any case, the symbolic expression of the > cornerstone < has a double meaning: it is the stone on which the entire building is founded, which connects and stabilizes two walls at their joining point, but it is also the cornerstone which is not in the building foundations but, rather, on its top, where it completes and keeps the building together.
Analogically speaking, it is – according to the view of the Freemasons - ,
the alpha and the omega, at the same time, it is the beginning and the end, the raw, roughed out stone- (the Apprentice Mason) and the cubic Stone (the Master Mason), it is the Man who ritually aims to become a Human Temple, a projection of the Universal Temple in a microcosmic way.

The same concept is expressed by Saint Peter in the First Epistle (2, 5):
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices."

However, Saint Augustine’s words are even closer to those used by Masons:
"The stones are extracted from the mountains by the preachers of truth to be squared off and become part of the eternal Temple. Right now there are many stones in the hands of the divine Architect; heaven grant that none of them will fall from His hands, so that each of them acquires the right shape that will allowed its integration in the construction of the heavenly building."

Similar are the words by the Latin poet
Prudentius, who states that the Stone is the immortal fact:
"For sure, the corner built with this stone, so despised by the builders, will last over the centuries. Today it is the keystone of the Temple. It is this stone that keeps the new stones together."

According to legend, this Latin poet had been initiated into the Free Masonry, as allegedly Saint Francis and almost certainly Brother Elias had been. There would be no other explanation for the various > masonic symbols < found in his tomb and in the Basilica of Assisi, designed and built by Elias.
The floor of the Church features white-pinkish marble tiles from Subasio, that create a unique color effect, and remind of
"templar symbols".

Brother Elias most probably belonged to the guild of Comacine Masters. This assumption is corroborated by the great respect he enjoyed from the Emperor Frederick II, who appointed him Architect and Comacine Master of various works. Elias was certainly a highly educated man, who had studied law at the University of Bologna and had worked as a Notary and Master in Assisi. During the two years he spent as Francis’ envoy at the court of the Caliph of Baghdad, he also learned to work the stone, both from a material and spiritual point of view.
During his long stay in the Holy Land, he was engaged in sensitive diplomatic negotiations, acquiring negotiating skills that were then used by both
Francis and Frederick II. He also developed and expanded a secret know-how of how to build holy places. Elias was certainly highly stimulated by his encounter with the renowned and much sought-after "Cagot Masters", who were living in Palestine. At the end of the crusades, some of them moved to Europe becoming the originators of that architectural breakthrough which is the "Gothic" style.

During these two years in the Near East,
Elias studied to become an "architect of holy places", and from "muslim master stonecutters" he learned the art of building rooms fit for initiatory rituals, where unique energy fields are harnessed under the effect of high frequency and low magnetism fields. This allows participants in these "initiation rituals" to expose their bodies to energies that progressively open their vital centers. With the skills learned in the Holy Land, Elias was able to design and lead the works for the building of the Basilica of Assisi and of other holy buildings. All these works, including the construction of a highly esoteric building like "Castel del Monte" in Apulia, had been appointed to him by Frederick II.

Now, going back to the symbolic meaning of the > Cornerstone <, we could refer to the author of a book entitled “ Mistero della Cattedrali” (The Mystery of Cathedrals), aka Fulcanelli. In this highly esoteric book he explains that one of the meanings of the cornerstone is of being considered as > the first Stone, e.g. < the initial matter > of the Master Work.

In the Church of Notre Dame in Paris this stone acquired a human form, under the guise of Lucifer (the carrier of Light, the morning star): this statue was commonly called "Maître Pierre du recoin", in other words, cornerstone.

In an alchemic book published in 1526, the initial matter was explained as follows:

"It is familiar to all young and old men, it can be found in the countryside, in villages, towns, in all created things; and yet everybody despises it. Rich and poor people handle it every day. Housewives throw it out on the street every day. Children play with it. Nobody attaches any value to it, although it is very close to the human soul, it is the most beautiful and richest thing on earth, and has the power to overthrow Kings and Princes. And yet, of all things on earth, it is deemed to be the lowest and least valuable."

For this reason, if you want to take the initiatory path in masonry, you will be compared to a stone, which is despised and disposed of as garbage, until you are able to turn the rough stone into polished stone.

As pointed out by Moreno Neri in an interesting article published in the web site of Rito Simbolico Italiano - Deucalione e Pirra, in ancient cosmogonies, as well as in Greek mythology, as soon as the survivors of the universal flood - which destroyed our ancestors of the bronze age - reached land again, they threw stones behind their backs that they had collected before boarding the Arc. They are nothing less than the > bones < of the Ancient and Great Mother, of our Mother Earth. Stones that morphe into men and women. It is for this reason that – as narrated by Apollodorus and Ovid in the Metamorphoses - we were metaphorically called > laoì < from the word > làas < which means stone, because the human species is rough and "expert" in hard and tiring jobs.

Finally, how not to mention - points out Moreno Neri in his article from which we have extracted the Gospel quotes – that this > despised stone < is actually a precious stone reminding us of the Graal stone mentioned in the Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach:
the lapsit exillis, that can be interpreted as the stone descended from the sky, > the emerald < fallen on the ground from Lucifer’s crown. According to legend, it was kept by a small group of Chosen Templars, who went missing after the persecution by Philip the Fair, King of France.

In this detailed analysis of the symbols left by Brother Elias on the body of Saint Francis, we would like to draw the same conclusions we have used to end the article entitled "The Mystery of St. Francis’ Tomb” and refer to the same "allegory of the Graal "and of the “Knights of the Round Table ", a troubadorish legend so much loved by its most renowned poet.

The word
Graal comes from sangraal, namely “royal blood”, the blood that has the power to purify the sins of the world and come in contact with divine spheres.

The blood, Francis’ spirit, was certainly "royal" and of the"purest" quality, therefore it had to be preserved in a "royal cup", which was not to be made of "gold", nor of precious "crystal".

Brother Elias collected this blood in a perfectly polished "Stone Cup", under his very "Paradise" hill, letting his mortal remains to be a continuous source of that inexhaustible divine energy, of that powerful, unabated energy released by the holy relics, and protecting it against negative and impure contacts.

from heart to heart

Giovanni Salvati


A man cannot change the world
but he can spread a message
that can change the world