Category Archives: Franciscan saints & blesseds

Saint Clare of Assisi

More than anything else that can be said of the life of Saint Clare of Assisi it is her example of being at the foot of the life-saving Cross. This icon shows us that the cross means sacrifice and service. An abbess, as an example of what the Lord would do, washes the feet of the disciples.

Saint Clare’s radical example is not easy to follow but I think it ought to be an aspiration. May she show us the path to the Lord. I believe that Clare opens a door of what Christian discipleship means.

Prayers for the Poor Clare nuns.

Our Lady of the Angels and the Portiuncula Indulgence

Today the Church observes a Franciscan feast of Our Lady of the Angels on which the “Portiuncula” Indulgence is offered. You may not be encountering this feast in a lot of places, but it is very worth knowing. You can also read last year’s post on this feast.

As you know from the personal history Poverello, he repaired three chapels, the last of which is typically called the Portiuncula or the Little Portion, dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. The chapel now exists within the larger basilica church as seen in the picture. It is here that Franciscans identify their spiritual home. Moreover, it’s here that Saint Clare professed her vows on Palm Sunday in 1212 and where Francis died on October 3, 1226.

The Franciscan tradition tells us that Our Lord accompanied by Our Lady appeared in 1216 Francis who was encouraged to requested from Pope Honorius III to grant an indulgence to all who visited the Portiuncula chapel. Later popes expanded the indulgence to include churches administered by the Friars, and now the indulgence is offered to anyone who fulfills the obligations (see below) in any church.

The usual conditions to receive a gift of a plenary indulgence:

  1. detachment from sin:  a true sorrow for, and repudiation of, all one’s sin, mortal and venial;
  2. sacramental confession within a week of the feast;
  3. reception of Holy Communion on the day the indulgence is sought;
  4. prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father (see the blog entry on August 1 for the intentions) on the day the indulgence is sought (recitation of the creed, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary suffice, or any other suitable prayer).

If these conditions are not met, the indulgence will be partial.

Saint Bonaventure on mystical prayer


One of the famous works of Saint Bonaventure’s is his Journey of the Mind to God. You see it in many places for those wanting a glimpse into this significant medieval thinker. It was in the Roman Divine Office of Readings. We always need an insight or two into contemplation, what it means, how it exists, and so forth. There is no exhausting one’s search into understanding mystical prayer.

I want you to listen to Veronica Scarisbrick’s interview with Franciscan Father Rick S. Martignetti who works in Rome and has authored of Saint Bonaventure’s Tree of Life: Theology of the Mystical Journey (Grottaferrata, 2004). It is a study of Bonaventure’s understanding on prayer and life in the paschal mystery. I found Scarisbrick’s interview both delightful and helpful.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

(Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313)

Blessed Junípero Serra

JSerra.jpgOne the outstanding missionaries in the USA, is Blessed Junipero Serra. A Franciscan, who was born in 1713 and ordained priest in 1737 taught theology and philosophy at the University of Padua, followed the direction of his superiors to me a missionary in the new world; his first stop was Mexico City before going up the west coast of the USA founding 21 of the missions, the first of which was 1769 when he was 56. The foundations were not merely places of prayer, but a true Christian society. 

November marks the 300th anniversary of Serra’s birth.
As Archbishop Chaput said last week when he was reflecting on Blessed Junipero, “Christian faith is not a habit. It’s not a useful moral code. It’s not an exercise in nostalgia. It’s a restlessness, a consuming fire in the heart to experience the love of Jesus Christ and then share it with others –or it’s nothing…”
This, I believe, is what set Serra’s heart on fire; this is what sets my heart on fire for Christ and His Church today.
Blessed Junipero Serra, pray for us.

Saint Anthony of Padua

St Anthony's bones.jpg

May Thy Church, O God, be gladdened by the solemnity of blessed Anthony Thy Confessor and Doctor: that she may be evermore defended by Thy spiritual assistance and merit to possess everlasting joy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Anthony, pray for us.

Saint Anthony, inspire a new springtime in the Franciscan family.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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