The Tau Cross - Symbol for Peace and Unity for all faiths
A. THE TAU AS A FRANCISCAN SYMBOL
The early biographies of Francis tell us
that he used the Tau very often as an expression of his devotion to the
Cross of Jesus. We have copies of some of his letters in which he made the
sign of the Tau in his own hand. On the wall of the little chapel of St.
Mary Magdalen at Fonte Colombo the usual design used by the Poverello
traced in red is to be found.
2. The source of Francis' devotion to
this sign can be traced to the Bible, especially in Ezechiel 9:4 "Go
through the city .... trace the sign of the Tau.. " This passage,
often commented upon by the Fathers and a familiar theme of medieval
preaching was well known to the faithful. St. Bonaventure in his Legenda
Major 4-9:1079 sees the connection between this text from the prophet
Ezechiel and the mission of Francis: ..."according to the text of the
prophet, in signing the Tau on those men who cry and weep as a sign
of their sincere conversion to Christ."
St. Francis adopted the sign of the Tau
especially because the very shape of the letter is the same as that of the
Cross and so was a reminder to him of his Crucified Lord. Whereas the
Catari or Albigensians refused to use the sign of the Cross considering
this material symbol as unworthy to represent the redemptive work of God,
Francis honored and embraced it as representing God's love for us.
Another connection of Francis with the
sign of the Tau is his service to the lepers and the Brothers of
It is interesting to note that at least
some of our earliest hermitages or small friaries of "St.
Anthony" were originally dedicated to this St. Anthony and not to the
Saint "of Padua" (e.g. Sant'Antonio del Busseto, Massa Martana,
St. Francis was present at the IV Lateran
Council called by Pope Innocent III who had verbally approved the Rule of
the Order. On November 11, 1215 this Pope opened the Council with a
discourse which surely found an echo in the heart of Francis. The second
part of this talk comments on the above mentioned passage from Ezechiel:
The Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew
alphabet and has the form of a cross as was presented to us before the
placard written by Pilate was placed upon it. The person who bears on his
forehead the sign of the Tau shows in his way of life the splendor of the
Cross-, who bears the Tau has crucified the flesh with its vices and sins;
who bears the Tau affirms by this: in nothing else do I wish to glory
except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ .... Who bears the Tau will
find mercy, in this sign of a life converted and renewed in Christ ....
Therefore, be ye champions of the Tau and of the Cross!
This appeal of Pope Innocent .... a
dramatic call for a general mobilization of Christendom for a Crusade of
conversion and penance profoundly influenced the spirituality of Francis.
Obedient to the call of the pope he signed himself with the Tau of
penance. It would be his favourite symbol reminding him and his friars of
their vocation to preach penance and conversion to Christ. This would be
the Crusade of St. Francis, a crusade not of armed soldiers to recover
A Symbol of Identification &
Unity for the 21st century.
In my role as a Light Bringer in service
to Sananda Jesus, I was guided several years ago to start wearing the Tau
symbol for protection against ‘entity attack’ from others. Following
my recent visit to the tomb of Holy Father Francis in
The Tau symbol has attracted much
interest from across the world and none more so that when I was working by
The time spent kneeling before the Tomb of Saint Francis I knew
that my life’s work was to continue to embrace ‘religious diversity’
and empower all to unite as one loving spiritual family to come and share
in God’s love around the same table of Love and Light , praising the
same God/Dess without all the dogma. I believe that Saint Francis and his
followers have left us a tangible expression of their love for God, Mother
Nature and the Animal kingdom in this symbol of love, simplicity and peace
releasing a healing energy all of its own to those whose needs are great.
Brother Sean TCOSF
Founder & Spiritual Director of the Tau Community of Saint Francis.
If you would like to
know more about our online interfaith spiritual monastic community without
walls, then please contact Sister Theresa TCOSF or Brother Sean TCOSF
Tau Community of Saint Francis,
Read about Brother Sean's lineage with the Johannine Essenes founded by Jesus, Saint John and Magdalene on Mount Carmel.