In Christianity the story of Jesus plays a decisive role, whose fate has shaped another image of nakedness. The story of Saint Francis of Assisi contains a meaning of nakedness, that is also found in other cultures.
Nakedness as humiliation. The nakedness of Jesus as as a tormented and castigated one shows nakedness as punishment and a sign of profound humiliation, which continued from the medieval pillory to – contrary to all the rules of public international law – today's interrogation methods under torture conditions or winning poses of ruffian soldiers against captured or killed opponents.
The nakedness of Jesus as crucified symbolises the continuation and increase of humiliation till death.
Nudity as an asceticism. Nudity of the holy Francis as symbol for the renunciation of all earthly goods and the complete turning to God. In the course of a trial on the market place of Assisi, he broke away from his father, a wealthy merchant, took off his clothes and gave them back to him. From then on, he only wanted to serve the divine Father in heaven.
This view of nudity is a manifestation of ascetic nudity developed centuries earlier in Jainism and Buddhism and practised in classical antiquity in the nude lifestyle of philosophers such as Diogenes, which in turn was modelled by numerous hermits and monks into the Middle Ages.
Read on: Buddhism and Hinduism