1st August: The Portiuncula Indulgence

The Portiuncula (or “Little Portion”) is a 9th century chapel given to the Franciscans by local Benedictine monks. It was here that St. Francis of Assisi received his calling to be a mendicant or beggar following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Since the mid-17th century it has been enshrined within a massive basilica in Assisi called Santa Maria degli Angeli (“Our Lady of the Angels”).

From noon of Aug 1 until midnight of Aug 2 the faithful can gain a plenary indulgence applicable to themselves or the souls in purgatory at the usual conditions:

  1. Be in the state of grace.
  2. Confession (8 days before or after).
  3. Holy Communion.
  4. Prayers for the intention of the Pope (usually Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory be.)
  5. And by visiting a cathedral, parochial, quasi-parochial or Franciscan church and there praying at least one Our Father & one Creed.

In addition it is necessary to have the intention of gaining the indulgence and to be detached from all affection to sin even venial, otherwise the indulgence is gained partially.

The intentions of the Pope are:

  1. The exaltation of the Church
  2. The propagation of the faith.
  3. The extirpation of heresy
  4. The conversion of sinners
  5. Concord between Christian princes
  6. All other goods of the Christian people.

St. Francis Receiving Confirmation of the Franciscan Order from Pope Honorious III, by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), originally in a central position in the Santa Trinita, Florence, Italy. It is housed today at the Piazza della Signoria. The approval of the Franciscan order by Honorius III depicted in this fresco occurred in 1223 which was about 7 years after the Portiuncula Indulgence, This late 15th-century art work provides insight into the almost public event that any papal encounter entailed.

The Portiuncula is a little town situated about three quarters of a mile from Assisi and is officially known as Santa Maria degli Angeli, which has grown around the basilica of Our Lady of the Angels and the adjoining Franciscan monastery. It was here that on February 24 1208, St Francis of Assisi recognized his vocation; here was for the most part his permanent abode, after the Benedictines had presented it to him with the little chapel Portiuncula (i.e. a little portion of land) erected at the time of Pope Liberius (352-66); here also he died on Saturday October 3 1226.

The Portiuncula indulgence could at first be gained only in the Portiuncula between the afternoon of Aug. 1 and sunset on Aug. 2. It was gradually extended to all Franciscan churches and finally to the present discipline.

Since the reform of Paul VI we can only gain one plenary indulgence per day.

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