If St. Francis of Assisi loved the beauty of God’s Creation of course he loved the most beautiful of mere creatures, Mary the Most Holy Mother of Jesus Christ. And how could he not? Jesus Our Lord and God became our brother in and through her.
Commenting on St. Francis’ love of Our Lady, St. Bonaventure says:
“He loved with an unspeakable affection the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, forasmuch as that She had made the Lord of glory our Brother, and that through Her we have obtained mercy.”
(Major Life of St. Francis of Assisi, by St. Bonaventure – Leg. Mai. IX,3)
And that makes her our mother.
So much did St. Francis of Assisi love the Mother of God and his mother, that he repaired an abandoned church dedicated to her. He even lived in it while repairing it, begging for her prayers and guidance with tears of love. Francis heard that the church had been visited by angels, so it was called Our Lady of the Angels.
“He loved this spot more than any other in the world. It was here he began his religious life in a very small way; it is here he came to a happy end. When he was dying, he commended this spot above all others to the friars, because it was most dear to the Blessed Virgin.
This was the place where Saint Francis founded his Order by divine inspiration and it was divine providence which led him to repair three churches before he founded the Order and began to preach the Gospel.”
(Major Life of St. Francis of Assisi, by St. Bonaventure)
Our Lady of the Angels church was also referred to as the Porziuncola (little portion) because it was located on a piece of land, formerly belonging to the Benedictines, called Porziuncola. The Porziuncola or Portiuncula, is situated inside the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels which was built surrounding it. I’ve visited the Portiuncula replica at Franciscan University of Steubenville and I love the one at the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Land in Washington DC.
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Hail Holy Lady most holy Queen,
Mary Mother of God.
Chosen by the Father in heaven
consecrated by Him.
With His most beloved Son and
Holy Spirit comforter,
On you descended and still remains
fullness of grace
And every good.
Hail His palace and His robe,
Mary Mother of God.
Hail His handmaid lowely and pure,
Loving servant of the Lord.
Hail holy virtues given by God
to all the faithful in the world,
So that no longer we faithless be,
And may become the
servants of the Lord. – AMEN
Image (flickr) of our Lady of the Angels. Prayer of St. Francis