Feast of the Dedication of the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi

Feast of the Dedication of the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi

On August 2, the Franciscan family celebrates the dedication of the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi.

Home base for Franciscans

Located down in the valley about two and half miles below the city of Assisi, this chapel, the beloved "Portiuncula" or "Little Portion," was restored by Francis in the first years of his conversion. It became the place where he and the first brothers made their home base about 1210. It is also where Francis received Clare into his movement a few years later and where he died in 1226. This shrine to Mary remains the spiritual “motherhouse” of the Order of Friars Minor.

Portiuncula wooden panel Assisi 700pxls In the interior of the chapel, the central scene on the wooden panel over the altar depicts the Annunciation, surrounded by the story of the granting of the Portiuncula Indulgence. In the top scene Francis kneels before Christ and Mary enthroned in heavenly glory. It was painted by Ilario of Viterbo in 1393.

The “Pardon of Assisi”

Francis desired that everyone experience the overwhelming love and mercy of God in this place just as he had, and so, according to tradition, in 1216 he persuaded Pope Honorius III to grant a plenary indulgence to all persons who visit this chapel, prayerful and repentant, on the feast of its dedication. On August 2, thousands of pilgrims converge here to receive the "Pardon of Assisi," as this indulgence is commonly called in Italy.

Today this plenary indulgence may be gained in any Franciscan church or chapel and in all parish churches throughout the world from noon on August 1 through midnight on August 2.

Basilica St Mary of the Angels Assisi 700pxlsTo shelter the vast throngs of pilgrims coming to Assisi, Pope Pius V ordered that a large basilica be built to enclose the small chapel of the Portiuncula. This was constructed in the Mannerist style between 1569 and 1679, and rebuilt after a severe earthquake in 1832. The facade was restored in the 1920s.

A message of “pardon and reconciliation”

Saint John Paul II once said the message of the Portiuncula Indulgence is one of “pardon and reconciliation, that is, of grace, which divine goodness pours out on us if we are well disposed because God is truly rich in mercy.”

Let us pray with Francis

Hail, O Lady,

Holy Queen,

Mary, holy Mother of God,

Who are the Virgin made Church,

chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven

whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

in whom there was and is

all fullness of grace and every good.

 

Hail His Palace!

Hail His Tabernacle!

Hail His Dwelling!

Hail His Robe!

Hail His Servant!

Hail His Mother!

 

And hail all You holy virtues

which are poured into the hearts of the faithful

through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,

that from being unbelievers,

You may make them faithful to God.

Basilica of St Mary of the Angels Mary statue 700pxlsThe statue of Mary crowning the basilica was added in 1930.

Learn more

You may wish to catch a live glimpse of the basilica at https://www.skylinewebcams.com/.../assisi-santa-maria....

You may also see Monday's events (including a video of the feast day Mass) at the Frati Minori Assisi Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/fratiminoriassisi.

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Main image: The Portiuncula chapel, dating back to the 9th century and rehabilitated by Saint Francis, is now enclosed within the great basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. The fresco on the exterior and the little spire were added to the simple stone chapel in the 19th century. 

Dominic Monti

Written by : Dominic Monti

Dominic V. Monti, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province (USA) and currently professor of Franciscan Research in the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University. A native of nearby Bradford, PA, he was educated at St. Bonaventure (BA); after joining the Order, he attended the Catholic University of America (STB), Union Theological Seminary, NY (STM), and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago (PhD). He devoted the greater part of his ministry to teaching the History of Christianity, in particular the history of the Franciscan movement. He has contributed two volumes to the Works of St. Bonaventure series and is author of Francis & His Brothers, a popular history of the Friars Minor. He is spiritual assistant to a federation of Poor Clares and the Franciscan Secular Institute, the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ.
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