Franciscans world-wide celebrate on 2 August the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, a time linked with the Portiuncula Indulgence or the Pardon of Assisi, as the Italians called it.
The Portiuncula is an ancient church dedicated to Mary under the title Our Lady of the Angels and is located in Assisi, Italy. It was a spot very dear to the heart of Saint Francis.
The Porziuncola is the place where Franciscanism developed, and where Saint Francis lived and died .
The chapel, of antique construction and venerated for the apparition of Angels within it, belonged to the Benedictine monks of Subasio. It was on a piece of land called “Portiuncula” and later, the name of the land passed to the little church itself.
It was abandoned for a long time and was restored by Saint Francis. It was here that he understood his vocation clearly and here that he founded the Order of the Friars Minor (1209) “establishing here his home”, St. Bonaventure tells us, “because of his reverence for the angels, and of his great love of the Mother of Christ” to whom the little church was dedicated. The land and the Chapel were gifted to him by the Benedictines for making it the centre of his new religious family.
On 28 March, 1211 Clare, daughter of Favarone di Offreduccio received her religious habit here from the hands of Saint Francis and so initiated the Order of the Poor Clares.
In 1216, in a vision, St Francis obtained from Jesus himself the Indulgence of the Pardon of Assisi that was approved by Pope Honorius III. This plenary indulgence may ordinarily be gained on August 2 and 15; pilgrims may gain it once a year on any day of the year.
At the Porziuncola, that was and is the centre of the Franciscan Order, St Francis assembled all the Friars in the Chapter every year to discuss the Rule and to renew their dedication to the Gospel Life. The Chapter of Mats (Stuoie) in 1221 was attended by more than 5000 friars.
The Porziuncola is situated now inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in the town of the same name around 5 km from Assisi.
Here he began and grew in his religious life; here he founded the Franciscan Order; here he manifested his love and great devotion to the Mother of God. When Francis knew he was dying, he requested to be brought to the Portiuncula to end his earthly life.