On August 2, the Franciscan family celebrates the Dedication of the Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels. It is known as the Portiuncula or “Little Portion,” restored by Saint Francis and the place where he and the early Friars made their home. Likewise, the Chapel is the place where Francis received Clare into the “movement” on March 28, 1211 and where he died in 1226.
Long connected with the Mother of God, it is a good idea that today we pray with the Poor Man of Assisi in these words: “Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, holy Mother of God, you are the virgin made Church, and the one chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven…in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.”
Based on mystical vision St. Francis experienced of Jesus and Mary in the Portiuncula chapel on August 1, 1216. The Little Portion Chapel, thereafter, has been the site of a venerable tradition of being a place of forgiveness, indulgence, justice and mercy. One of the traditions of today’s feast day is for pilgrims to the Portiuncula for the Feast of Saint Mary of the Angels may pray for the “Pardon of Assisi” or Portiuncula Indulgence, granted to all those who come to this chapel seeking reconciliation and are repentant of sin. This plenary indulgence may ordinarily be gained between August 2 and 15. However, the Indulgence is granted today to anyone with the intention of honoring Our Lady of the Angels reciting the Creed, praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, praying for the pope’s intentions, along with fulfilling other conditions (of receiving forgiveness of sin).
On Thursday (August 4th), Pope Francis will make a private pilgrimage to the Little Portion Chapel to mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In 2015, Pope Francis said on the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Porziuncola that the Assisi Pardon “is a powerful reminder to bring ourselves closer to the Lord in the Sacrament of Mercy and to receive Communion.”
2016 is the 800th anniversary of the granting of this Indulgence.
St. 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.”