The Rite of Welcome for the Postulants of the Franciscan Friars Conventual was held the evening of July 9, 2018. Each new Postulant was given a San Damiano Crucifix, the cross that initiated St. Francis’ own call to rebuild the Church. Upon hearing the Call to “rebuild my house,” while in prayer before the Cross of San Damiano, Saint Francis of Assisi began his life’s conversion. Keep up with this new class through their Facebook Page: Conventual Franciscan Postulancy USA
More on the San Damiano Crucifix:
One day, young Francis had gone into the countryside to meditate, he was led by the Holy Spirit to stop and pray in the Chiesa di San Damiano (Church of San Damiano); a small church was almost in ruins. While kneeling in prayer before the image of Christ on the Crucifix, and moved to tears he heard the voice of Our Lord calling down to him three times: “Francesco, va’ e ripara la mia chiesa che, come vedi, è tutta in rovina!” (Francis, rebuild my house which is in ruins!) In awe, Francis obeyed through his own interpretation of what he heard and made it his mission to repair the physical walls of the church. He then sold all that he had to finance his efforts, and returned to Chiesa di San Damiano. The understanding that he was being called to repair the Universal Church came to St. Francis of Assisi later.
When the Poor Clares, founded by St. Francis as the Second Franciscan Order, moved from Chiesa di San Damiano to Assisi’s Basilica di Santa Chiara (Basilica of St. Clare), they took the cross with them.It is there that you will still be able to find the original San Damiano Crucifix (aka the Cross of San Damiano).
Before the time of St. Francis and St. Clare, religious art was ruled by strict symbolic representations. The Cross of San Damiano is packed with imagery. Jesus is portrayed as our risen Lord; wounded but strong, on the Cross of San Damiano, depicting for us that through His perfect sacrifice, He gains for us eternal life. On the cross there are multiple witnesses to the crucifixion, including Our Lady, St. John the Evangelist, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his son, St. Longinus – the centurion who pierced Jesus’ side and later became a Martyr for Him, Stephaton – traditional name (though faulty derivation from the Greek word for sponge) for the Jewish Temple Guard who offered Jesus the sponge soaked in vinegar wine, angels, animals and representations the patron saints of the area. Each of these have specific representational purpose.
The Prayer before the Crucifix
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and
give me true faith,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.