St. Francis Portiuncula Indulgence

portiuncula

The medieval town of Assisi sits on the top of a hill in Umbria, Italy. In the town square, young St. Francis removed his rich garments and embraced his life of Christ-like poverty.

On the plain at the bottom of the hill sits an ancient chapel. It honors Our Lady of the Angels. Was originally dedicated on August 2, shortly before Assumption Day. It was eight hundred years old at the time of St. Francis, eight hundred years ago.

The chapel languished in disrepair then. The Lord inspired St. Francis: “Repair My house!” So Francis and his companions renovated the little chapel and made it their home.

stfrancisAnyone been there? My dear mom, my late aunt, and I visited on November 16, 2008, along with a group of pilgrims. That was my third visit.

The Portiuncula now sits inside a large basilica. And they built replica portiunculas at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, and in downtown San Francisco, CA.

The Lord promised St. Francis that anyone who wants to honor Our Lady of the Angels and visits the Portiuncula—or visits any parish church, on the anniversary of the dedication of the Portiuncula—can gain a plenary indulgence.

You just have to recite the Creed, pray the Our Father, pray for the pope’s intentions, renounce all attachment to sin, and confess and receive Holy Communion sometime within the same fortnight.

A plenary indulgence helps a soul get to heaven. Either my own soul, or a soul in purgatory.

As Luther pointed out, selling indulgences involves the grave sin of simony. But obtaining an indulgence by praying and renouncing sin? Good to do.

Thrilled, Tired, and Here

Deacon William Walker and your servant in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi
Deacon William Walker and your servant in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi

It has been something of a slog through airports, bus parking lots, and hilly Umbrian streets…but we pilgrims have made it to the town of St. Francis.

Upon arrival in Assisi, we went straight to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. This massive sixteenth-century church houses the Portiuncula, the small chapel where St. Francis and his first followers prayed. This is also the site where St. Clare became the Bride of Christ, as our guide Elizabeth pointed out. And it is the place where the Troubadour of Christ breathed his last.

For followers and friends of St. Francis, this is the holiest of sites. It was not just sleep deprivation that made us emotional as we celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of St. Clare. The Lord has drawn us here to meet Him, to renew ourselves in contemplation of the mystery of holiness.

Tomorrow we will visit both St. Francis and St. Clare. The Basilica where we were earlier today is in the lower town of Assisi, at the bottom of the hill. It was open country and woods at the time of St. Francis and St. Clare.

The churches of the saints of Assisi are in the thousand-year-old town at the top of the hill. We came up the hill by bus after Mass, just in time for supper.

dinnerfontOur accommodations are right between the churches of St. Francis and St. Clare, in the middle of the old town. The hotel dining room afforded us a splendid dinner this evening, complete with bottles of delicious Umbrian wine. We are now well-fed and hope to be well-rested soon.

We thank the gracious Providence of God for getting us here safely. And we thank Him, and all the wonderful geeks of the world, for making it possible to share this with you. The Geeks are alright!

More to come tomorrow, if God allows.