Around the world in October, we Franciscans celebrate the Feast of St. Francis (October 4). One part of our annual observance is a service on the evening of October 3, known as the “Transitus,” or “passing” of St. Francis. It’s a simple time of storytelling and prayers that recall how, at the moment of his death, Francis called out “Welcome, Sister Death!”
It is the holiest Christian shrine. But, until March 2017, it was in danger of imminent collapse.
The shrine goes by an odd name, the Edicule, meaning “little house. ” It sits under a great dome in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. No bigger than a good-sized garage, its marble-clad walls are festooned with hanging oil lamps and mismatched candlesticks with bare, energy-efficient lightbulbs. Daily, thousands of visitors line up for hours to see the sacred spot believed to be the burial place of Jesus.