Solemnize Respect Life Sunday with Franciscan Transitus

by Sister Julie Ann on October 3, 2010

While the USCCB publishes a program packet each year to call attention to numerous human life issues on Respect Life Sunday, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity considered this year’s Oct. 3, 2010 celebration of St. Francis’ Transitus another solemn expression of protecting and nurturing human life at every stage of its existence.  

Just what is Transitus?

Transitus is a Franciscan devotion to ritually remember the passing of Saint Francis from this life into God.  This special ritual takes place each year the evening of October 3 which often gathers members of the 3 Orders of St. Francis.

 We invite you to pray this ‘green’ prayer used here at our Motherhouse. Only individuals with leading roles needed copies of the script since congregational parts were cantored or remembered from memory.  All present were given candles. It began with these words… 


Extinguishing Francis Candle in Transitus

Franciscan Sister Louise Hembrecht extinguishes St. Francis candle during Transitus Oct. 3, 2010.

Narrator: From the earliest days of the Franciscan Order, the followers of St. Francis have gathered on the anniversary of his death to celebrate his transitus, that is St. Francis’ passage from earthly life into everlasting life. 


 Here in this place, too, we gather to celebrate the light which Francis was to his world.

After the Transitus’ opening lines were proclaimed, our 4 postulants did a Readers Theatre adapted from Thomas Celano’s writing that gave an overview of Francis’ life from birth to his vigorous living of his baptismal call. 

Click here to read the Postulants’ dialogue.

Our candle light prayer concluded by celebrating St. Francis’ entrance into heaven and a sharing of almond cookies (a favorite of Francis who requested this goodie from friend Lady Jacoba as he anticipated his death!)

Transitus’ Reflection: In John’s Gospel we heard Jesus’ words, “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do. St. Francis in turn says to us: “I have done what is mine to do, may Christ teach your what is yours”. What is it that Christ is calling us (you) to do right now in our (your) lives (life)?

10 thoughts on “Solemnize Respect Life Sunday with Franciscan Transitus”

  1. Rose says:

    It was a beautiful ceremony! Gave me goosebumps. I was so happy to be a part it all!

  2. Shelena says:

    Thank you to the Motherhouse Community for providing this meaningful prayer time. The social following was simple in the spirit of St Francis, an almond cookie and a drink. May all have a Blessed St Francis Day!

  3. Rose says:

    It was a beautiful ceremony! Gave me goosebumps. I was so happy to be a part it all!

  4. Leslie (postulant) says:

    The Transitus was very simple and beautiful. It was refreshing not to need a pamphlet or to look up any pages in our hymnals. Just, listen, reflect, and pray that is all we had to do. The darkened chaple filling with candle light was a beautiful image to reflect on. I was so moved and impressed.

  5. These days have been wonderful times of prayer, celebration, community, simplicity, creativity, and goodness!

  6. Srosangela says:

    What a beautiful Transitus Service. I was most grateful I could be there. It was a joy to have our Postulants take part. The beautiful voices of our Sisters filled the chapel and made one proud to be part of our Franciscan Community.

  7. Sweetsue64 says:

    Sister Laura told us about the Transitus and Iwish I could have been there. Her reselling of it was it's self inspiring. Thaks for the pictures here. Thanks Sister Julie and and Sister Mary Ann and for sharing your talants with all of us. God Bless the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

  8. Sister Pat Sevcik says:

    The Transitus celebration posted here is beautiful! In Tucson at San Xavier, we Sisters and the Friars who serve here celebrated this special ritual in late afternoon in a darkened chapel. At 7 p.m. we joined hundreds of people form the Nation and the city to celebrate St. Francis with a procession, singing, fireworks, church bells ringing and native dancers dancing. What a wonderful experience to be a first-time participant in this great event honoring and praising God for St. Francis. On the morning of October 4th, a stray dog entered the church at the time for Mass, sat next to Fr. Steve as he distributed Communion, lay on the floor in front of the altar until the end of Mass, and led the procession out of church. I think St. Francis looked down from heaven and smiled. I know I did!

  9. Sr. Delores says:

    The Transitus was wonderful. I was very moved by the light and the dark, listening to the reflections and writings. Thank you to all who worked on it to make it a special time of remembrance for us. I enjoyed seeing the Postulants start the service for us.

    Thank you for the lovely social as well…

  10. Sannjoachim says:

    The Transitus was a beautiful and prayerful commentary on the Death of St. Francis. It was the highlight of the activities for the feast of St. Francis

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