On one side, the cross represents Christ crucified, the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Peter. On the other side, besides the figure of Christ, there are Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Louis of Tolouse and Saint Anthony of Padua. Since these are four Franciscan saints, it is likely that the work was commissioned by a convent of this order, probably female, given the presence of Saint Clare.
The body of Christ, the focus of the painting, is modelled through a delicate interplay of light and shade to bring out its anatomy and its volumes. In the work there are reminiscence of the art of Piero della Francesca and more generally of the culture of Urbino and central Italy, from Luca Signorelli to Perugino and Pinturicchio.
The attribution to the young Raphael, who may have painted it in about 1500-1502, is still debated.