Jacopone da Todi, also known as Jacobus de Benedictis, an Italian monk and poet, was born at Todi, in Umbria, early in the thirteenth century. "He was descended from a noble family," says Julian, "and for some time led a secular life. Some remarkable circumstances which attended the violent death of his wife led him to withdraw himself from the world and to enter the order of St. Francis, in which he remained as a lay brother till his death, at an advanced age, in 1306. His zeal led him to attack the religious abuses of the day. This brought him into conflict with Pope Boniface VIII., the result being his imprisonment for long periods." His oddities, eccentricities, and extravagances were such as to leave neighbors in doubt as to whether he was of a sound mind. Tradition at Todi, his birthplace, credits him with the authorship of the famous Latin hymn, "Stabat mater dolorosa," but it is by no means certain that he wrote it.
Near the cross was Mary weeping 154