Transitus – What is it?

Transitus is the annual celebration by Franciscans throughout the world of the passing of St. Francis from this life to life with God.  It is celebrated the night of October 3, the eve of his feast day.  The word "transitus"  comes from the Latin, meaning passage or crossing.

There is no one ritual for Transitus, and therefore many expressions have developed for this liturgy.  Certain prayers or writings of St. Francis and accounts from his early biographers are common.  One of them, "The Life of St. Francis" by Thomas of Celano, recalls how when Francis was dying he asked that the washing of the feet from Gospel of John be read.  This Scriptural passing is often included in the Transitus.  Since Francis spoke of dying as embracing Sister Death, the ritual is solemn but not sad and inspires the participants to richly live the Gospel until the end of their days.