IN HONOR of our 100th Anniversary, we have adopted a new logo as a symbol of both our grounding in history and tradition, and our vision and newness of life heading into the future. The logo is a stylized silhouette representing St Francis of Assisi, our namesake and patron. It is layered with symbolism in all of its colors and elements:
BROWN is the color most often identified with Franciscans. It is the color of our habit, and that of many other Franciscan orders. It represents our common history and shared tradition. It is our place in the worldwide SSF family, and in the whole Franciscan tradition spanning more than 800 years. Brown is often regarded as a symbol of humility. It reminds us of our identity as Minores: Lesser Brothers.
GREY was the color of the habits of our forebears in the Order of Saint Francis. It is therefore a symbol of our Founder, Father Joseph, and of the history and tradition that is unique to SSF in the Province of the Americas. It is also a color of uncertainty. It represents the uncertainty and doubt that inevitably accompany faith. Despite all our explanation and education, mystery will always remain. Therein lies the adventure.
BLUE is the color of the sky. It represents heaven, and more especially “our Father in Heaven.” It is also a symbol of brotherhood and fraternity. The same blue vault stretches over us all, and we stand as equals before God. Blue is also the traditional color of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the God-bearer and Patroness of all Franciscans.
ORANGE is the color of earthen clay. It represents the earthiness of our calling, our presence “in the dirt,” our ministry of presence among the poor and discarded. It also evokes the Biblical imagery of the potter and the clay. We, as individuals and as a Society, seek to be clay in the hands of our maker, continually being re-formed to the glory of God.
THE SILHOUETTE represents Francis, but because it is in shadow and stylized in its form, it could easily be any friar, and is therefore all of us. We are not an order of ideas, but of people.
THE HALO is typical in representations of saints. The circle is symbolic of the sun, evoking the Canticle of the Creatures. It testifies to the presence of God in Creation, and of our interconnectedness with all of creation. It also represents the Eucharistic host. The eucharist is the heart and the center of our common worship. Eucharist is also an emblem of our life, as we are blessed, broken, and shared with the world around us.
The three colored segments inside the halo are emblematic of the Trinity. The segments also represent the “three threes” of our Principles: Three Conditions of Life (Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience); Three Ways of Service (Prayer, Study, and Work); Three Notes of the Order (Humility, Love, and Joy).
While it may not be immediately obvious, the halo is not a perfect circle. This imperfection is intentional. Our life is not one of perfection, but of striving. We are broken people, trying our best to live out the gospel together. We are not more holy or more special than others because of our way of life. Our vows are simply one expression of the baptismal vows of all Christians.
THE BLUE SEGMENT points downward into the midst of the grey uncertainty and the orange clay of earth, recalling the Incarnation. Franciscans have long stood as witnesses to the Primacy of Christ: That the Incarnation was not God’s “Plan B,” but was purposed from all eternity. God desires to be with us as Lover with his Beloved. Heaven could not contain God’s love, and it spilled onto earth in the fully human person of Jesus. Death could not contain God’s love, and it burst forth from the grave in the new life of the Resurrection. As our faith is deeply incarnational, so is our life and ministry. We commit to be God’s presence in the world.
As a whole, the halo gives the feeling of a stained-glass window. Much of the beauty of stained glass resides not in the glass itself, but in the brilliance of the light shining through it. Stained glass in a darkened church can appear flat and lifeless. With mid-day sun streaming in, the room is alive with vibrant color and warmth.
We too pray that God’s vibrant beauty may be seen as the light of the Gospel shines through us in our next 100 years!