I always look forward to August 2: it is the Franciscan Feast Day of Our Lady of the Angels. The church of Our Lady of Angels, in Assisi Italy, was a favorite place of St. Francis to pray and to be in the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He found comfort and solace there in the small church which he nicknamed “the little portion” (Portiuncula) because it was small church on a small portion of land given out to Franciscans by the Benedictines.
St. Francis, after taking Jesus’ words to rebuild his church a little too literally, went around physically repairing churches. He found this particular church in disrepair and decided live there until he fixed it, so great was his love for Mary, the holy Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Francis ensured that his brothers always had a presence there, making it the “mother church” of the Franciscan order.
“She made the Lord of Majesty our brother, and through her we found mercy!”
Once when St. Francis prayed in the church, Jesus and Mary appeared to him, surrounded by a host of angels, and asked him what he desired. Francis replied that he wanted all who visit the church to have full pardon for all their sins after having repented and confessed them. And so, this was granted as an indulgence – every August 2, up until midnight, one can receive it under the usual conditions of receiving an indulgence (intention to receive it, detachment from sin, praying for the Pope, receiving Confession and holy Eucharist or at Least intending to do so as soon possible, and additionally, saying a favorite prayer). This indulgence has been extended to the universal church — It can be received by visiting any Catholic church on August 2. Today the church is housed within a basilica which was built over it. I found a photo of it from my dad’s choir trip to Italy, years ago.
There are several replicas of the Portiuncula (the “Port,” including on the grounds of the Franciscan University of Steubenville and at the Franciscan Monastery of the holy land, and Washington DC. I have have great blessing to be able to pray to Our Lady of the Angels at both sites.
Our Lady of the Angels, grant us a powerfully great love for you in imitation of your dear son St. Francis of Assisi!