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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Today, August 2nd, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula

Shrine of the Porziuncola

The Porziuncola is the place where Franciscanism developed, and where Saint Francis lived and died.

The Porziuncola is situated now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in the town of the same name around 5 km from Assisi. 

The chapel, of antique construction and venerated for the apparition of Angels within it, belonged to the Benedictine monks of Subasio. It was on a piece of land called "Portiuncula" and later, the name of the land passed to the little church itself. 

It was abandoned for a long time and was restored by Saint Francis. It was here that he understood his vocation clearly and here that he founded the Order of the Friars Minor (1209) "establishing here his home", St. Bonaventure tells us, "because of his reverence for the angels, and of his great love of the Mother of Christ" to whom the little church was dedicated. The land and the Chapel were gifted to him by the Benedictines for making it the centre of his new religious family. 

On 28 March, 1211 Clare, daughter of Favarone di Offreduccio received her religious habit here from the hands of Saint Francis and so initiated the Order of the Poor Clares.
In 1216, in a vision, St Francis obtained from Jesus himself the Indulgence of the Pardon of Assisi that was approved by Pope Honorius III. This plenary indulgence may ordinarily be gained on August 2 and 15; pilgrims may gain it once a year on any day of the year.
At the Porziuncola, that was and is the centre of the Franciscan Order, St Francis assembled all the Friars in the Chapter every year to discuss the Rule and to renew their dedication to the Gospel Life. The Chapter of Mats (Stuoie) in 1221 was attended by more than 5000 friars. 

The Porziuncola is situated now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in the town of the same name around 5 km from Assisi.

Here he began and grew in his religious life; here he founded the Franciscan Order; here he manifested his love and great devotion to the Mother of God. When Francis knew he was dying, he requested to be brought to the Portiuncula to end his earthly life.

As we honor Our Lady of the Angels, may we find inspiration for our own growth and development in the Gospel way of life that Saint Francis embraced and lived so completly.

From the Franciscan Book of Prayer

(The following is an excerpt from:  the "Major Life of St. Francis" by St. Bonaventure.)

"The Portiuncula was an old church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God which was abandoned . Francis had great devotion to the Queen of the world and when he saw that the church was deserted, he began to live there constantly in order to repair it. He heard that the Angels often visited it, so that it was called Saint Mary of the Angels, and he decided to stay there permanently out of reverence for the angels and love for the Mother of Christ.

He loved this spot more than any other in the world. It was here he began his religious life in a very small way; it is here he came to a happy end. When he was dying, he commended this spot above all others to the friars, because it was most dear to the Blessed Virgin.

This was the place where Saint Francis founded his Order by divine inspiration and it was divine providence which led him to repair three churches before he founded the Order and began to preach the Gospel. 

This meant that he progressed from material things to more spiritual achievements, from lesser to greater, in due order, and it gave a prophetic indication of what he would accomplish later.

As he was living there by the church of Our Lady, Francis prayed to her who had conceived the Word, full of grace and truth, begging her insistently and with tears to become his advocate. Then he was granted the true spirit of the Gospel by the intercession of the Mother of mercy and he brought it to fruition.

He embraced the Mother of Our Lord Jesus with indescribable love because, as he said, it was she who made the Lord of majesty our brother, and through her we found mercy. After Christ, he put all his trust in her and took her as his patroness for himself and his friars."


Shrine of the Porziuncola
The Porziuncola is situated now inside the
Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels

In 1909 St. Pius X elevated it to the rank of Patriarchal Basilica with Papal Chapel, likewise confirming its title of Head and Mother of the Whole Order of Friars Minor.
The portico of the fa├žade was designed by Poletti and G. Bazzani (1924-1930); the bronze statue o! the Madonna at the summit is the work of G. Colasanti. The vast tree-lined esplanade leading to the Basilica was designed by the architect G. Nicolosi and recalls the forest which once surrounded the Portiuncula.

The interior with its three ample, harmoniously proportioned naves, in Doric style, was in large part reconstructed by L. Poletti (1836-40) after a major section collapsed during an earthquake in 1832. The dome and the Portiuncula were providentially spared.
On the curved structures supporting the dome there are four frescoes by E Appiani (1757): The Clothing of St. Clare, The Donation of the Portiuncula to St. Francis, St. Francis Hearing the Gospel of Perfect Renunciation in the Portiuncula, and St. Bonaventure Composing the Life o! St. Francis.

Important archeological remains have recently been brought to light: the origina1 choir behind the Portiuncula (visible below the pavement); paved floors probably in the first friary built in masonry at the Portiuncula (enclosed in the new crypt).

The new presbitery is the work of the architect B. Apolloni-Ghetti; the giltbronze statues at the altar are by E. Manfrini; the bas-reliefs of the amboes are by T. Fiedler. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel with its entrance to the left of the Portiuncula is reserved for prayer and reflection.

The 17th cent. decorations and paintings in the side chapels are by Pomarancio, the Assisi artists Sermei and Giorgetti, by Salimbeni, Appiani, Maggesi, and the Zuccari brothers.


The Choir of the Basilica and the pulpit (opposite side from Transitus chapel) are finely carved works done by Franciscans of the l7th century.

Our Lady Queen of Angels

Prayer to Our Lady of the Angels

You are fair, O Mary,
And the stain of original sin is not in you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem;
You are the joy of Israel;
You are the honor of our people;
You are the advocate of sinners, O Mary
Our Lady of the Angels,
Virgin most prudent,
Mother Most loving,
Pray for us,
Intercede for us with Jesus Christ our Lord.
(mention your request)
Prayer for Faith, Grace and the Intercession
of Our Lady of the Angels
Heavenly Father, you filled the heart
of St. Francis with a special love
for the Mother of Your Son, Jesus,
and for the Portiuncula.
In this hallowed place you nourished
his spiritual life and inspired him
to found the Franciscan Order.
Through the intercession of Our Lady
of the Angels may we be steadfast
in our faith and remain true to You.
Grant us the faith and grace always to do Your will.
Grant this through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Salutation Of The Blessed Virgin

( by Saint Francis of Assisi )
Hail Holy Lady most holy Queen,
Mary Mother of God.
Chosen by the Father in heaven
consecrated by Him.
With His most beloved Son and
Holy Spirit comforter,
On you descended and still remains
fullness of grace
And every good.
Hail His palace and His robe,
Mary Mother of God.
Hail His handmaid lowly and pure,
Loving servant of the Lord.
Hail holy virtues given by God
to all the faithful in the world,
So that no longer we faithless be,
And may become the
servants of the Lord. - AMEN
Mary We Turn To You For Protection
We turn to you for protection,
holy Mother of God.
Listen to our prayers
and help us in our needs.
( mention your special request )
Save us from every danger,
glorious and blessed Virgin.

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