Transitus? What’s a Transitus?

Franciscans all over the world observe the Transitus today, on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis. (Technically, for us, it’s a Solemnity, which would be extra cool if it weren’t already Sunday! As it is, the Sunday takes precedence over the Feast. Or Solemnity. St. Francis would probably let someone have it if he heard them complaining that a Sunday canceled out his Feast Day. Actually, there’s no “probably” about it. I’m quite sure he would.)

St. Francis statue at St. Anthony Shrine, Paterson, NJ. Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.
St. Francis statue at St. Anthony Shrine, Paterson, NJ. Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Today we observe the Transitus, because today is the day Francis died. “Transitus” celebrates transition: between Francis’ life on earth and his new life in Heaven.

We observe the Transitus by gathering together in prayer. The Transitus is not a Mass, but a prayer service. At the Transitus my Fraternity is hosting, we will sing “All Creatures of Our God and King” because Francis wrote the words. And we will sing all the verses, spread out at different points in the service, because those last two verses concern earthly death–or, as Francis called her, “Sister Death.” We will read from biographies of Francis by St. Bonaventure and Thomas of Celano. We will also read from the Gospel of John and Psalm 142. After the homily, we will pray together and then enjoy some fellowship with our guests.

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