Initially thought to be Saint Jerome the subject is now believed to be Saint Francis, whose reverence for the crucified Christ was such that during prayer a vision of the cross appeared to him, and impressed upon him the stigmata. Francis's constant companion in depictions of this episode, the Franciscan monk Leo, is shown to the right in the middle distance. This was the only time that Rembrandt portrayed Saint Francis, and it was the last print in which landscape played an important role.
Executed initially completely in drypoint, and then only subsequently completed in etching, the plate is one of the most fragile in his oeuvre, in that the drypoint wore away quickly, and very few impressions with full burr survive. Rembrandt took considerable care with every one he printed, making considerable variations in the amount of plate-tone in particular.