Three years ago (2016) marked the 800th Anniversary of the August 2nd Portiuncula Indulgence. You will notice that our province logo incorporates the Portiuncula graphic. This is because the Portiuncula (the small chapel of St. Mary of the Angels nicknamed “Little Portion” by St. Francis of Assisi) is located within Assisi’s Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Franciscans around the world celebrate August 2nd as the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Angels but we friars who are members of a province named in her honor, hold the day in special regard. There are many opportunities to join our friars that day, throughout our province and we encourage all to find a ministry location nearest to you. Visit our ministry locations page for more information, and follow the links to the ministry websites. We hope to see you.
More on the Feast Day and Il Perdono (the Portiuncula Indulgence):
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 (aka “Little Portion” and pictured at right) 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 chapel and the surrounding small parcel of land were is disrepair. Just as he had done at San Damiano, St. Francis rebuilt the chapel, 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. In 1216, at the request of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Honorius granted 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 include from 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 Franciscan 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 Day, 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 (below) 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 we stated before, for we friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, this Feast Day has singular significance.