The Portiuncula (small portion) refers to the land in Assisi, Italy, that belonged to the Benedictines. On this land was an old church dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God but abandoned. The great St. 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 and repair it. He heard that the angels often visited it, so that it was called St. Mary of the Angels. The Benedictines wanted to give Francis the church but in order to remain faithful to Lady Poverty, Francis rented it from them with the annual compensation of a basket of fish from the Tescio river.
Here is where Francis began his service to Christ and His Church. Here Francis founded his Order, received Clare as his spiritual daughter, and where he died commending this spot above all others to the friars. St. Francis had great love and compassion for everyone. On a night of July, 1216, Francis was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula devoured by love for God and a thirst to save souls. He prayed for the forgiveness of sins of mankind. Suddenly a brilliant light shone all around. In great splendor Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud surrounded by a multitude of radiant angels. Out of fear and reverence, St. Francis adored Our Lord prostrate upon the ground. Then Jesus said to him: Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation. St. Francis was rapt in ecstasy before Jesus.
When he regained his courage he said: “Lord, I a miserable sinner beg You to concede an indulgence to all those who enter this church, who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins. And I beg Blessed Mary, your Mother, intercessor of man that she intercedes on behalf of this grace.” Our Lady at once began to beseech her son on behalf of Francis. Jesus answered: “It is a very great thing that which you ask Me; but you are worthy of even greater things, Friar Francis, and greater things you will have. So I accept your request, but I want you to go to my Vicar, to whom I have given the power to bind and loose in Heaven and on earth, to ask him on my behalf for this indulgence.”
With one of his companions, Francis hastened to Pope Honorius III and prostrate implored him to proclaim that every one visiting the church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart would be as pure from all sin and punishments as he was immediately after baptism. The Pope granted this petition. This indulgence has been extended to all parish churches throughout the world.
The date was set from vespers of the first of August until sundown on the second of August, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels. It is said that St. Francis was given this day by Our Lord because the Feast of the Chains of St. Peter celebrated on August first is the day Peter was released from prison and his chains removed. This is an extraordinary demonstration of God?s mercy in removing the chains of sin from those who devoutly and faithfully seek to gain the indulgence by completing its requirements.
The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi is (for oneself or for a departed soul) as follows:
1. The Portiuncula Indulgence is a grace not to miss not only for yourself but for the many suffering souls in Purgatory.
2. Sacramental Confession to be in God?s grace (during eight days before or after.)
3. Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist
4. Recitation of The Apostles Creed, Our Father and a prayer for the Pope’s Intention.
Mark your calendar for the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels beginning on the First of August to August 2. Tell everyone of the magnitude of this gift. Once again, we see the unfathomable Divine Mercy of God. In the words of St. Francis: O my Brothers and Sisters, I want you all to go to Heaven!
1 “St. Francis Of Assisi And The Great Pardon Known As The Portiuncula Indulgence,” by Susan Tassone