As you may have seen on my Facebook page and on Twitter yesterday, I posted a link to a piece by Aleteia entitledAll your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church on August 2.”

Since my place is a 5-minute walk from a Franciscan church I frequent – San Gregorio VII – I made plans to go in early evening as there were confessions from 6 to 7pm and Mass at 6:30 so I could fulfil all the conditions for a plenary indulgence that is granted on August 2, the day of the famed “Pardon of Assisi.”

The “Pardon of Assisi” can be obtained from vespers of August 1 to midnight of August 2. This is a plenary indulgence (elimination of temporal punishment due to sin) that may be received by going to Confession, attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist (August 2), visiting a parish or Franciscan church, reciting the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and praying for the Pope and his intentions. (A link to my video on the Porziuncula is below)

Things were not well-organized for the many people who wanted to go to confession so I will go asap to St. Peter’s where a portion of the basilica is always dedicated to priests who hear confessions in many languages from the basilica’s opening until it closes. Confessions are often heard during Mass in Italy but I don’t like missing even a moment of Mass so that is not a choice for me. The conditions needed for a plenary indulgence may be fulfilled for a week before or a week after the special date, such as August 2.

The story of the “Pardon of Assisi” and the Indulgence of Porziuncula is a wonderful story, all the more so if you have a great love for the saint of Assisi or bear his name – Francis (my middle name is Frances).

St. Francis of Assisi – a statue on a hillside on the way to the church of San Damiano –

That Porziuncula website tells us that a small abandoned chapel, situated in an area known in Latin as “Portiuncula” – which means “small piece of land” – was given by Benedictine monks to St. Francis who, having promised the abbot to make it the mother house of his new order, promptly restored it with his own hands. It was here that he came to understand his vocation clearly and here he founded the Order of the Friars Minor in 1209, entrusting it to the protection of the Virgin Mother of Christ, to whom the little church is dedicated.

The Porziuncula is one of the first churches that St. Francis rebuilt after hearing God’s voice from the San Damiano cross say, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins”.  It is also where he received St. Clare and where he died.

He died here:

One night in 1216, while Francis was immersed in prayer, a radiant light spread through the little church and he saw above the altar Christ and his Mother Mary, surrounded by a multitude of Angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis’ reply was immediate; “I ask that all those persons who have repented and confessed their sins who will come to this church, may obtain a full and generous pardon, and a complete remission of all their faults.”

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Francis was told he had to get permission for this from Pope Honorious III. He did get permission but when the Pope asked him for how many years he wanted the indulgence, Francis is said to gave responded: “Not for a number of years but for all souls!”

Though Honorious did agree, he stipulated that the indulgence would only be received in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, the immense basilica that houses the Porziuncula, and only on August 2, the date the chapel was dedicated. That was soon extended to included Franciscan churches throughout the world.

St. Mary of the Angels –

Before St. Francis’ request for an indulgence, a plenary indulgence could only be gained by visiting the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s in Rome or Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Because not everyone could travel to these faraway places, Francis thus asked that the Porziuncula be designated such a place.

See more on my Joan’s Rome video: A VISIT TO THE PORZIUNCULA