It is a ritual common to families everywhere. When someone we love passes away, we take comfort in remembering how they lived and how they died. Each year on the evening of Oct. 3, members of the Franciscan family gather to remember the passing of St. Francis into eternal life in an observance known as the "Transitus" (from the Latin, meaning "crossing").
"Francis saw ‘Sister Death’ not as a great enemy but as a necessary part of his return to God’s embrace," writes Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM, in Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media). Through prayer, readings and song, the Transitus service reflects the peace and joy experienced by Francis in his final hours. It is a simple and somber prelude to the Feast of St. Francis, celebrated throughout the world on Oct. 4.