Our Lady of the Angels

Francis was especially fond of St. Mary of the Angels, the “Little Portion” (aka Portiuncula) – a tiny chapel hidden away in the woods and marshes near Assisi.

The chapel’s origin is a thing of legend. It is said that in the year 352, four holy men from Palestine came to visit the shrines of Rome. Having completed their pilgrimage, they asked Pope Liberius to suggest some remote place where they could retire from the world. He advised them to go to the mountains of Umbria. They came to Assisi and in the woods beneath the city, they built a chapel and four huts.  This is a pleasant legend, but it has no historical value.

When the Lord gave Francis brothers, they went first to Rivo Torto, but the site quickly grew inadequate. Through the intercession of the bishop of Assisi, Francis obtained from the Benedictines of Monte Subasio the use of the Portiuncula, for which he paid a basket of fish. Francis rebuilt the chapel after he had completed the rebuilding of San Damiano, in 1209.

Excerpts from: Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, “Assisi: Portiuncula,” in Pilgrim’s Companion to Franciscan Places, 295-326.