Cross of the Congregation
In reflecting on the congregation’s need for new symbols, the 1980 general chapter chose two that correspond well with Fr. Theodore’s thinking:
- a Marian sign: on our ring, which is a symbol of our commitment both in the biblical and in the personal sense, is written: IN SION FIRMATA SUM, words of Scripture, which the Church applies to Mary;
- a Christological sign: a simple cross of “glory” in conformity with the theology of the Second Vatican Council and of the early Church, with NDS, which indicates the congregation’s name.
The cross we wear now was made in Lyon of a resistant silver alloy. The artist, Daniel DARNAS, who specializes in religious art, carefully studied who we are as a congregation, and created an object, the elements of which all mean something to us:
- The cross is hollow so as to symbolize both the interior reality and the mystery of the “not yet” of God’s promises; we know that “one day, all peoples will call upon the Lord with one heart”, but we do not know when or how this will be.
- The arms of the cross are equal, like in the crosses of the Oriental Churches; they express openness to all peoples, Eastern and Western, Jews and Gentiles.
- The cross without the Christ symbolizes the mystery of death and resurrection, the central mystery of our faith.
- The base of the cross looks like two feet: the human person standing, saved.
- The chain of our cross connects us with Christ.
- The cross is within a circle, symbol of fullness.
The monogram NDS is our Name Notre Dame de Sion.
(According to the notes of Sr. Magda, who was in dialogue with the artist and Sr. Kay’s letter no. 53.
In sion firmata sum
‘In Sion Firmata Sum’ is our motto, engraved on the ring, which a sister of Notre Dame de Sion receives upon making her Final Profession of Vows.
For Ben Sirach 24:10, Sion/Zion is the hill of the Jerusalem Temple, the place where the Lord is present in the midst of God’s People. That is the meaning that is given several times in 1 Mac. 4:37; 5:54; 10:10-13.
Originally, Zion was the name of the Jebusite fortress conquered by David (2 Sam. 5:9). It was in the higher northern area that today is called Ophel. Once the city was taken, David named it: “City of David”. At the time of Ben Sirach and of the author of 1 Maccabees, the name Zion was located further north and designated the hill where Solomon built the Temple.
During the time of the author of Maccabees, the name “City of David” also moved its location (1:33), and according to some, it was then designated to the steep promontory on the western side of the Temple esplanade, beyond the Tyropeon Valley.
For many centuries and until today, these two names are located in the west side of Jerusalem. David’s citadel, the remains of the Jebusite fortress to which the title “City of David” was given, is next to Jaffa Gate, whereas Zion or “Mount Zion” is the name given, at least since the 4th century CE, to the hill on the southwest of the present-day Old City (where the remains of the Cenacle are located today).
Mary Daughter of Sion
Mary is quite explicitly the Daughter of Zion in the account of the Annunciation: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, echoes Zephaniah 3:15-17.
According to the account of the Visitation (Luke 1:39-56), Mary is Zion in reference to the Temple, the sanctuary of the divine Presence in the Ark of the Covenant. Luke got his inspiration for this from the account of the Ark’s ascent to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1-19).
Mary is also Sion through her presence in the Cenacle. If Sinai is the mountain of God’s special revelation to Israel, Zion is seen by the prophets as the mountain for the end of time, the mountain with a universal vocation, the place where all the nations will be gathered and where the Torah will be given to all peoples (Isa 2; Isa 25; Isa 60, etc…). And the proclamation of the good news to the entire world, in the breath of the Spirit, which will go forth from the Cenacle, the place where the small group of apostles were gathered around Mary, who represents Israel.
The two mountains are both important. They manifest necessary stages in the history of the revelation of God who accompanies human history with his loving Presence and who does not cease to surprise us through eternal newness.