What is Franciscan Passages?

You already love St. Francis of Assisi and you wonder what made him tick.

Franciscan Passages is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization founded to promote the actual writings of St. Francis  + St. Clare of Assisi.

Since 2010, I, Julie McElmurry, through Franciscan Passages, have traveled wherever I’ve been invited to teach and speak on the writings and related themes. My solid academic background, education and experience allow me to guide you through the writings of St. Francis + St. Clare through retreats, workshops, presentations, classes, books, movies and more.

Why Study the Writings of St. Francis?

Hear from men and women who studied the writings of St. Francis of Assisi with Julie McElmurry. You’ll even catch a few tears in the eyes of people who love St. Francis’ ways + came to understand him better.

Who was St. Francis of Assisi?

St. Francis statue in Santa FeYou may already know something about St. Francis of Assisi. He is a beloved and popular model of holiness for all of us. Maybe you’d like to get beyond the artistic (and sometimes cartoonish) depictions of him.

  Allow me, Julie McElmurry,to  guide you as you get to know Saints Francis + Clare better.

I do this  through in-person and online classes, presentations, books, workshops, retreats & movies will show you the way through and around these writings. He (and his contemporary St. Clare) left us poetry, letters, official documents, testaments and letters. They’ve all been translated recently into Modern English  so they are ours to discover. These writings to not belong in some hermetically sealed container. They belong to you and me so that we can share them with others!

Allow St. Francis and St. Clare to speak to you across 800 years of history through their own words and let them impact your way of life!

What’s an example of one of St. Francis’ writings?

As you could have guessed, I get pretty excited about these writings. I want to share these and promote these however I can because their richness and depth have so much to say to us. Let’s take 2 minutes to take a look at something.

Chartula in color

Look to your left. No, not that left, your other left. This is one of two pages “we” have with St. Francis’ own writing upon it. There may be other pages somewhere but they’ve never been identified or even found.

On this side of the document, you see he’s written a blessing, in fact, it is a blessing from the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament…in St. Francis’ own hand! You also see a tau cross (he used this as his signature-it comes from a line in the book of Ezekiel about marking oneself with a tau-last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, to signify you are a believer in God).

The red writing was added later, by St. Francis’ pal, Brother Leo. He meticulously describes the origins of this document. In red, Leo tells us that Francis wrote this while retreating at LaVerna. That’s the same time and place in which he encountered a vision of a seraph and received the first known occurrence of the stigmata (or markings of Christ upon his body). Do you see the image drawn at the base of the tau cross? Well, I’d love to tell you some ideas about who this is according to the ideas of some of the finest Franciscan scholars alive today. Call me and I’ll tell you all about it!

For now, let me just add one more thing. I haven’t even told you about what is on the back of this page! On the back is what we call the Praises of God. St. Francis writes out many (some say 33-more on that later) ways to try to describe our ineffable God.  This little document was folded many times over and kept by Brother Leo (who, by the way, is buried in the same tomb as St. Francis and a handful of other companions including a lay woman who looked out for and loved the friars-but more on that later). Brother Leo folded this so that this side you see here was the inside or protected part of the document. On the other side is what is arguably the more precious writing-St. Francis’ Praises of God, my favorite line of which describes God as “all our riches beyond sufficiency.” Mama, mia, we have so much to talk about!

  • Why did Brother Leo fold it that way?
  • Why did he consider this inner part more important to preserve?
  • What was St. Francis thinking about when he wrote it?
  • What’s on the other document which he wrote in his own hand?
  • What words does St. Francis use to describe God?
  • Where can we learn more about all this?

See, isn’t this stuff exciting? Let’s continue the conversation!