The San Damiano Cross
the large Romanesque rood cross that St. Francis of Assisi was praying
before in the ancient church of San Damiano outside Assisi when he received the commission from the Lord to
rebuild the Church. The original cross now hangs in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi. Franciscans cherish this cross as the symbol of
their mission from God. The cross is of a type sometimes called
an icon cross
because besides the main figure it contains images of other saints and people
related to the incident of Christ's crucifixion. The tradition of such
crosses began in the Eastern Church and probably reached Italy via
The purpose of an icon cross was to teach the meaning of the event depicted and thereby strengthen the faith of the people.What is Charism?
The word "charism" refers to a special characteristic or gift of spirit which is distinctive to a certain person or religious congregation. As women religious, we inherit the charism of the founders of our individual congregations. More than spirituality, it is the founder's charism of service, spirituality and sense of mission that lives on in the congregation which s/he founded. As the needs and challenges of the world develop over the time, so too does this charism, which is used to respond to the new and ever-changing challenges we face.
SpiritualityFollowing in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, Clinton Franciscans strive to live the gospel in our time.
The Starting Point: the goodness of God and the sacredness of everything.
The love and goodness of God grounds our Franciscan spirituality. All of creation is an outpouring of God's love and creative goodness. All is sacred. A deep joy springs from this awareness.
Everyone and all of creation is related as sister and brother.
Because we are all created by one God, we are all brothers and sisters. Francis grew in his understanding of this throughout his life. Even those marginalized by society (the lepers of Francis' time) and our enemies (for Francis, the sultan Malik-al-Kalim) are our brothers and sisters. Eventually Francis came to know that all of creation is related as sister and brother. This is most eloquently expressed in "The Canticle of Creation
," after which our home, The Canticle, is named. There is no escaping that we are all interconnected. Relationships are central to Franciscans.
Peacemaking as the heart.
Given that everything/everybody is sacred and we are all related, peacemaking lies at the heart of our charism
. Living in peace is living in right relationship. In the midst of great conflict, Francis proclaimed a greeting of peace to all: "May the Lord give you peace." and in his Rule he directed his followers to always greet each other and all persons with those words. Stories about his efforts at peacemaking and reconciliation are well known. Franciscans around the world are devoted to peace. The "Peace Prayer
," attributed to St. Francis, is prayed by persons of all faiths.
Special love and concern for the poor.
Those who are marginalized have a special place in the hearts of Franciscans. The story of Francis kissing the leper and discovering in that experience that we are all sisters and brothers rings true to us. That is why compassion is important to us. Both Francis and Clare had a love for the "poor Christ" who emptied himself to become human. They experienced the poor Christ in the least, the suffering, and even in their own frailty.
All of creation.
Because of Francis' profound understanding of all of creation as sister and brother, he is the patron saint of the environment.
Franciscans the world over are involved in efforts to protect the environment.