Led by the Holy Spirit to embrace the Gospel life of continual conversion, through prayer, community and service, in the tradition of Francis, Clare and Mother Alfred, we, Rochester Franciscan Sisters and Cojourners, commit ourselves to be a compassionate presence for peace in our world, striving for justice and reverence for all creation. (Mission Statement adopted May, 2003.)
Shown in the upper left hand corner of our web site, the Crest of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rochester, Minnesota, contains: upper left, Franciscan arms; lower left, North Star, sign of the state of Minnesota where the order was founded in 1877; upper right, Lion of Assisi, Italy, birthplace of the order; lower right, seal of Lourdes, France, where Mary appeared in 1858, as Our Lady of Lourdes, now patroness of the Congregation. The center cross is made by overlapping two Franciscan prayers, "Deus Meus et Omnia," and "Pax et Bonum," for seven centuries used by Franciscans as a greeting of peace and good. The whole is bounded by the cord with three knots signifying vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
San Damiano Crucifix
When St. Francis was searching for his way in life and was in doubt and confusion, he came into the ruined church of San Damiano in Assisi, Italy. As he knelt before this crucifix praying, he heard Jesus calling to him, "Go, Francis, and rebuild my house, which as you see, is falling into ruin." Francis left transformed, had a mission, a vocation that was soon to be shared by thousands of brothers and sisters. He responded with his whole being. This crucifix now hangs in the church of St. Clare in Assisi. (The San Damiano Crucifix is shown above.)
Over the years, the TAU cross has been worn on the forehead and has been placed on letters, doorways and walls.In ancient Palestine, the TAU referred to a stone marker to signify possession or belonging.TAU Others used the TAU to symbolize the tree of life, regeneration, divine power and hidden wisdom. It is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and speaks of concepts of finality and forever. In an early Christian text, the Didache, the TAU means the "Word of God."
For Francis, the TAU cross was the symbol of the internal conversion that must take place in order to truly follow in the footsteps of Christ. Francis often signed his letters with the TAU and made it a part of the community tradition among the brothers. Wherever it is used, the TAU signifies the will to personal conversion and the desire for reform in the Church. For Francis, it meant a sign of belonging to Christ, and it identifies its wearer as a wholly committed follower of the way of Jesus. Today, as shown in the example below, it is a symbol of consecration for the followers of Christ in the charism/spirit of St. Francis.