Special Today in Catholic History – St. Francis takes his vows

On April 16, Franciscans renew their vows in honor of St. Francis and his companions who made their vows into the hands of Pope Innocent III on this day in 1209.

According to the book Franciscans At Prayer, unfortunately out of print, the friars are to kneel in a circle around the altar after the celebration of Eucharist. They are to each carry a burning candle and pray for the help of the Holy Spirit. While they do this, the local minister is to encourage them to renew their profession and the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. In the name of all the friars, the local minister thanks God for the gift of being called to follow St. Francis, asks forgiveness for any sins against the Rule, repeats the vows of his solemn profession and then asks for the grace to persevere in the Rule until death.

This form as expressed in the Rituale Romano-Seraphicum in 1955 has been modified by various communities today but still contains these essential elements of renewal of vows, the importance of the Eucharist, and the emphasis on the community life. It should be noted that this renewal is intended as a devotional and has no juridical value. The renewal of vows is intended for Franciscans to recommit themselves to what they have already vowed to God that they would do.

Brothers, it has been a tradition in our Order that each year on April 16 – the day on which Francis made his profession into the hands of Pope Innocent III – we gather and renew our profession. The purpose of this renewal is to recall the origins of our Rule, to recall the devotion of Francis and his companions as they promised to follow the holy Gospel, to recall our own fervor as we begin this way of life, and to resolve to commit ourselves again to these ideals. Let us pray that with the help of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Francis, we may regain our initial fervor and re-commit ourselves to the life we have professed – from Franciscans at Prayer

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