St. Francis and the San Damiano Cross: A retreat of transformation

The San Damiano Cross was an important icon for St. Francis of Assisi.  While meditating on the cross, the young Francis heard the crucified Christ speak, calling him to "Go rebuild My house.”  That commission transformed Francis as he initially undertook the task to rebuild the physical church at San Damiano.  But as Francis' ministry expanded, his understanding of that initial commission expanded as Francis and his followers sought to transform God's larger, universal Christian church through a message of love and peace. 
 
Today, 800 years later, the San Damiano cross continues to speak, not just to Franciscans, but to anyone who longs to see Christ's church restored and their own lives renewed.
 
It has been 10 years since I made my first pilgrimage to Assisi in 2010 and spent time, like Francis, meditating before the San Damiano Cross.  I can't say that I had any great revelations, but the time spent in prayer, reflecting on the images in the cross, has made a lasting impression on me which has shaped my Franciscan spiritual proclivities and calls me to return to the cross regularly.  (I actually have two San Damiano crosses in my office!)
 
Join me for a special Day Apart Retreat on the Feast Day of St. Francis, October 4th, as I share more about the story of Francis and the San Damiano cross, and allow you time to meditate on the images in this iconic symbol.  With Jesus suspended at the center of the cross, many other biblical figures are present and together, they tell the mysteries of creation, incarnation, and glory that transformed Francis.  Through insights from the Gospel of John and the writings of Francis, I hope that the images on the cross will speak to your spirit and encourage your soul.
 
Taize-style worship and prayer, silence and sharing, teaching and reflection will frame this day of contemplation.  May the San Damiano Cross transform and inspire you as it did Francis, turning a self-centered spoiled young man into a saint who embraced the outcasts of this world and transformed the church.
 

Author

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Lawrence Jay

As the Executive Director of Rolling Ridge, Lawrence works in partnership with the staff to ensure that the guest experience at the Ridge is top quality.  He also partners with retreat leaders to provide excellent programming at the Ridge, and is ...