When I was last in Italy, I was poking around in a little monastery shop and came across some handmade (by the monks) olive wood pendants on knotted cords (amid a plethora of packets and bottles of natural remedies for various ailments!) One of these pendants was larger than the rest and in the shape of a tau cross. I immediately thought of my friend Valerie's husband, Mark, who is an Anglican priest and whose church is St. Francis by the Lakes. The connection being that the tau cross is the symbol of St. Francis. Even the Franciscan habit forms the shape of the Tau cross when outstretched. Francis' own tunic is on display in the crypt below the Basilica in Assisi, and is very patched up and worn looking, as I suppose is to be expected of the habit of one who has taken a vow of poverty. (Also on display is the original Franciscan Rule of 1223 approved by Pope Honorius III, which marked the founding of the Franciscan order, and the Blessing to Brother Leo* written in St. Francis' own hand. I really found it cool to see these documents up close and in person.)
* the Blessing to Brother Leo is the very familiar:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you
and be merciful to you.
May He turn His countenance to you
and give you peace.
Anyway...I bought the larger pendant for Mark, along with a smaller tau cross, a dove, and four fish...I just love these simple items and would have bought more but that was all they had in the shop. I gave them all away except kept a fish for myself.
I noticed Mark wearing his tau cross the other evening when I was picking M up from their house, and suddenly remembered that I had taken a photo of the tau cross on the lawn in front of St. Francis Basilica when I was in Assisi.
The Basilica itself:
Tau cross and word PAX (peace) "written" on the lawn in shrubbery:
And here are the pendants:
I really like Mark, I have to say. It seems whenever Valerie and I try to spend any time together, something comes up and, on more than one occasion, I have ended up visiting with Mark instead. Fortunately I quite enjoy these visits, and we have had some interesting and amusing conversations. At least I found them interesting...for all I know, he might be secretly thinking "when is she going to leave?" the whole time! :) I wonder if this strange phenomenon would work in reverse - if I actually planned to visit Mark, maybe I'd end up getting to spend time with Valerie! lol