Each fall, Siena’s friars mark the passage of St. Francis of Assisi from earthly life to heavenly life. Called Transitus – Latin for “crossing” – it is solemnly observed in a liturgy held the evening of October 3, one day in advance of St. Francis’ feast day. 

Br. Jason Damon and Fr. Tito Serrano co-organized this year’s Transitus.

“This is a centuries-old tradition, a narration of St. Francis’ life as he approached the end of it,” said Br. Jason. “For the friars, he is such a monumental figure. Transitus is an opportunity for us and the Siena community to reflect upon what his teachings mean today and why he still has such positive impact on the world.”

The service was informed by Thomas of Celano’s The Life of Saint Francis. Celano was one of the first followers of St. Francis.

The liturgy of prayer, song and readings also featured a bier newly handcrafted by Fr. Tito, upon which laid a friar’s robe to represent the saint who passed into eternal life more than 800 years ago.  

Athena Bennani ’23 gave several readings at the liturgy.

“I think the Transitus is important to Siena because we are memorializing St. Francis, the person who gave us our core values,” she said. “We emphasize and apply our Franciscan values to everything that we do for ourselves and for those around us. By celebrating his life, we remind ourselves of our school's origins and recognize the model that he left for his followers after his passing.”

Ruth Richards, former director of stewardship and donor relations at Siena, has received the Francis Medal from the Holy Name Province for promoting the Franciscan mission through her life and work. Richards was presented with the medal on the October 4 feast day Mass of St. Francis of Assisi, celebrated in the Chapel.

Richards, who worked at Siena from 2005 until her retirement in May of 2020, said she was “astounded and deeply grateful” for the award.

Fr. Mark G. Reamer ‘83, O.F.M., guardian of Siena’s friary and vice president for mission, presented Richards with the medal on behalf of the friars.

“I love Siena with all of my heart. The Franciscan spirit is not contained, it is shared, and I am very grateful it has been shared with me.”

Ruth Richards, former director of stewardship and donor relations; 2017 Administrator of the Year

“She has valued the presence of the Franciscan friars on campus and been a partner in ministry with us, continually seeking ways to highlight the distinctive value of Siena. Ruth has not simply admired the Franciscan tradition and the friars; she lives the Franciscan tradition and teaches it through the witness of her life.”

Fr. Mark G. Reamer ‘83, O.F.M., guardian of Siena’s friary and vice president for mission

“She epitomized the definition of a servant leader. She demonstrated daily the characteristics of empathy, listening, stewardship, and commitment to the personal growth of others.” 


Dave Smith ’79, vice president for development and external affairs