Over the next three years our Franciscan family will celebrate a succession of 800-year anniversaries, marking some of the more significant moments of St Francis’ life, starting this year with the Nativity at Greccio, and the Later Rule of the Friar Minors, and ending in 2026 with the Transitus of St Francis.
A central theme of Franciscan spirituality is ‘from the crib to the cross.’ As we begin our series of anniversaries, we place the Nativity of Jesus front and centre. According to St Francis’ first biographer, Thomas Celano, Francis wanted to contemplate the realness of the Incarnation, especially through the simplicity, poverty and humility of the Son of God “who gave Himself for us with supreme and indescribable love”.
Even though Christmas is now behind us, we place the reality of the Incarnation of Jesus before us in every Eucharist. In his Admonition, St Francis wrote, “Behold, each day He humbles Himself as when He came from the royal throne into the Virgin’s womb; each day He Himself comes to us, appearing humbly; each day He comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of a priest.”
In addition to Greccio, this year we also celebrate eight centuries since the composition of the Later Rule of the Friar Minors. The Rule, which was so significant to St Francis, and in turn handed on to each of the three Orders, can be simply summed as ‘observing the Gospel.’ In his Testament St Francis wrote, “The Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply, and in a few words, and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me.”
These centenaries which we will celebrate over the coming three years are an opportunity to strengthen our Franciscan identity. In our own unique way, each fraternity is encouraged to celebrate these events and incorporate these themes into ongoing formation.
Click the image to download the Centenary PDF