This painting is one of seven panels that come from the back of a large two-sided polyptych. It was made for the high altar of San Francesco, Borgo Sansepolcro and depicts the life of Saint Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order, who died in 1226.
The altarpiece was commissioned in 1437 and was installed in 1444. The front, showing the Virgin and Child with saints, would have been seen by the congregation, while the back, with Saint Francis in Glory, would have been seen by the friars in the choir. The eight panels of the Life of Saint Francis which accompanied this image would also only have been seen by the friars.
All but one of the scenes ('The Wolf of Gubbio') of the San Sepolcro altarpiece is based on Saint Bonaventure's life of Saint Francis, the 'Legenda Maior'.