August 2nd – Feast of Our Lady of the Angels (aka the Feast of the Portiuncula). The small chapel of St. Mary of the Angels (Our Lady of the Angels) was very dear to St. Francis of Assisi. He referred to it as the Portiucula (or the Little Portion) and it is considered the cradle of the Franciscan Order. In 1209, as the quarters of Rivo Torto became too small for the newly forming religious order, St. Francis obtained from the Benedictines the use of the Portiuncula, for which he paid a basket of fish. The church and the surrounding small parcel of land were is disrepair. Just as he did at San Damiano, St. Francis rebuilt it, adding small huts (cells) and enclosing it all in a protective hedge. It was there that St. Francis gained a more vivid understanding of his own vocation. He held the annual meetings of the friars (Chapters) there and it is where he desired to spend his final earthly moments; dying in his nearby cell October 3, 1226.
St. Francis felt that the Portiuncula was a place filled with God’s grace. He asked the Pope to grant special privilege (plenary indulgence – a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins) to all those who would visit the little chapel. Although limited to noon on August 1st to midnight on August 2nd, the privilege continues to be granted to this day, not only to those who visit the Portiuncula, but to anyone who visits any church where the friars live and minister. To receive this privilege (for yourself or for someone else – living or deceased), in addition to the visit, one must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation within several weeks of the feast, go to Mass and receive the Eucharist, recite the Our Father and Apostles Creed, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
The beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli that now surrounds the Portiuncula chapel was begun in 1569 (completed in 1684) by decree of Pius V. It was meant to accommodate the huge crowds of pilgrims who came on August 2nd for Il Perdono (Portiuncula Indulgence). This is an important feast day for all Franciscans and is celebrated in Franciscan churches throughout the world. As the friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, this Feast Day has singular significance. Please check our Pastoral Ministry Page and Special Ministry Page for links to our ministry locations near you as we encourage all to visit and celebrate with us.
A Feast of Our Lady of the Angels message from Fr. Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv., President of Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore)
Thoughts on the 2015 Feast Day, by Friar Edward Costello, OFM Conv.:
“As I commemorate my sixtieth anniversary of First (Simple) Profession this year, I am reminded that I was a member of the last Immaculate Conception Province Novitiate Class to receive the Franciscan habit (during the preceding year’s Investiture) in one of the major churches of the province, namely Our Lady of the Angels, located in Albany, NY. At the same Investiture were Fr. Canice Connors, OFM Conv. and Fr. Richard Rossell, OFM Conv. It was a beautiful church and on the sanctuary apse was a painting to celebrate Our Lady of the Angels (pictured here). For some of us, it remains a revered memory.”
He also adds:
” My first visit to the actual Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the valley below Assisi was on the eve of the feast in 1999 during my service as pilgrim guide and confessor at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The great basilica built over the small portiuncula chapel had been severely damaged in the earthquake of the preceding year and was being opened for the first time on the eve of August first for the celebration of the feast. I had walked down through fields of sunflowers on a sun-drenched evening to join the thousands who were waiting to enter for the indulgence. I had not known that prior to the opening of the great doors the gold-plated statue of Our Lady would hoisted back up to its place on the facade. There it stood on a truck bed wrapped in supports. As the sun began to set a crane was raised up and lifted the the statue of Mary slowly and seemingly so gentlly. As the statue neared the upper level it swayed to the left and paused, back to the center and paused, and then to the right and paused before it was set in place. Thousands of voices shouted and thousands of hands applauded as if Mary were blessing the portion of the gathering in each direction. Then finally, it seemed, Mary was back home to await her earthly family. The doors opened; we rushed in to visit, as St. Francis had arranged, her and her Son.”
Side Notes: At age 80, Friars Ed, Canice and Richard is some of our most senior friars. Friar Ed actively serves the people of God, through our ministry at Mother Cabrini Catholic Church, in Shamokin, PA. As Fr. Donald states in the video above, Immaculate Conception Province and St. Anthony of Padua Province united in May 2014 and all of our friars are now members of the newly established Our Lady of the Angels Province.
Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. is pastor of our ministries at Our Lady of Fatima Mission and Our Lady of Mercy Church, in Winston-Salem, NC.
He presented this Feast Day bulletin note to his parishioners: