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St. Francis sisters lead tours of art

Spiritual roots shown in tapestry of works across the campus


Sister Joan Jurski, third from right, speaks with Srini Srinivasan, right.

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Spiritual seekers and history buffs travel thousands of miles to Europe or the Middle East to marvel at the remnants of the Biblical past, but in Sylvania, residents can sojourn to the Sisters of St. Francis Motherhouse Grounds.

On Thursday, Sister Joan Jurski led a group of eight on a minipilgrimage around the Motherhouse Grounds at 6832 Convent Blvd., next to Lourdes University buildings.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

It highlighted the soulful works that mirror the sisters’ faith and thanks to God, St. Francis, and St. Clare, who sought a life of simplicity and poverty.

Since the sisters settled in the area in 1917, they have created a tapestry of art around the campus that reflects the spiritual roots of St. Francis.

“As I journey, it’s an idea that I am the one seeking to be in relationship to God more fully,” Sister Joan explained.

Sister Joan has led pilgrimages on the grounds for three years.

This pilgrimage opened with prayer and was rich with the Sisters of St. Francis’ beginnings and teachings, and how the convent’s founder, Mother Mary Adelaide, dedicated her life to beautifying the grounds, which total nearly 90 acres.

The group was lead to the chapel of Our Lady Queen of Peace.

At the foot of the door is a blue-tiled bath with a serene water fall, representing the sacrament of baptism.

Sister Joan recounted how and why artifacts were created.

About 10,000 blue tiles cover the high-ceilinged chapel forming circular and square motifs, and patterned with symbols of the Virgin Mary.

Placed before the altar is the colorful San Damiano Cross, a replica of the crucifix St. Francis prayed to.

The original relic is in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, Italy. The vibrantly colored cross is painted with egg tempera, an ancient technique used by Michelangelo. The chapel has stained glass windows with images of saints and greetings of peace and love for Jesus.

Outside in a wooded area is the Wooden Cross in the Woods, a 25-foot crucifix.

It was carved entirely of black locust from the campus. The only metal on the life-sized cross are the nails hammered into Jesus’ hands and feet, Sister Joan said.

“God dwells in us,” Sister Joan said before the group bowed in prayer before the cross.

“Everything is just beautiful and breathtaking,” Toledo resident Louise VanCleef said.

She and the others viewed the art on the walls of the cloistered walkway.

“It is so inspirational,” she added.

The next minipilgrimage is 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 18. The cost is $15 and includes lunch.

To register contact Sister Joan 419-824-3528 or

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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