Santa Maria degli Angelis / Our Lady of Angels, Assisi, Italy (13th Century) Feast Day and Portiuncula Indulgence: 2 August
Our Lady of Angels, or of the Portiuncula, is located on the outskirts of the City of Assisi, in Italy. It was a desolate locality and apparently an unsettled one where robbers and the lawlessness flourished, for the Benedictines who had lived at the Monastery felt it was too hazardous to remain there. They abandoned the Monastery, relocating to Mount Subasio, which was a fortified Monastery.
The original Chapel is thought to date from the 4th Century and was built by holy hermits who had come from the Valley of Josaphat. It is said that they brought relics of the Blessed Virgin with them to the region when they constructed the Chapel.
The history of the feast is inspiring. St Francis of Assisi, in the early days of his conversion, while he was still uncertain as to what path to pursue, was praying earnestly for enlightenment before the Crucifix at the Church of San Damiano, when he heard within himself the command of the Crucified: “Build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Taking the words literally, Francis began to restore San Damiano and other dilapidated Churches in and near Assisi. The most famous of these was the Church of Our Lady of the Angels.
Some time after the restoration of this little Chapel, an Angel told St Francis to come to the Church of Our Lady of Angels, or Portiuncula. There he found Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and the Angels waiting for him. Our Lord commended Francis because of his zeal for the salvation of souls and promised to grant him whatever he should ask on behalf of sinners. St Francis asked for this great favour – that all those who came to this Church to pray and, truly sorry for their sins, confessed them, should “Obtain in perpetuity a Plenary Indulgence” so that they would have nothing to account for when God called them. This was the great favour he asked, but Our Lord granted it to him through Mary.
When Saint Francis came upon the little, run down and abandoned Chapel of Our Lady of Angels, or Santa Maria degli Angelis, in the year 1208, it was almost completely hidden in shrubs and bush. Saint Francis entered the hidden Church, which measured only (7 x 4 metres) twenty-two feet by thirteen feet and saw the ancient fresco that had been placed above the main Altar. It was an image of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin surrounded by Angels. Some say that this is why the Chapel was named Our Lady of Angels, although there are also legends that Angels could often be heard singing there.
The place took its name, the Little Portion, or Portiuncula in the native Italian, from the small section of fertile land that was gifted to the Monks to work for their support. It is said that this was the place where Saint Francis first understood his vocation, received visions and was also where the saint desired to live. The Benedictines had lived at that location for hundreds of years but the Benedictine Monks gave this Chapel to Saint Francis upon his request. It was certainly here that the Franciscan Order was founded.
At first Saint Francis wished the convent which he built there to be the principal one of his Order. He assembled the first General Chapter there, where there were five thousand religious. It was also where he yielded up his spirit on 3 October 1226, the twentieth of his conversion and the forty-fourth of his age. The cell in which the poor man of Assisi died can still be seen where it rests against one of the columns of the cupola under the choir bay.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787) Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
The Roman Martyrology states of St Alphonsus today: “At Nocera-de-Pagani, Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop of St Agatha of the Goths and Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), distinguished by his zeal for the salvation of souls, by his writings, his preaching and his example.
He was inscribed on the Calendar of the Saints by Pope Gregory XVI in the year 1839, the 52nd after his happy death and , in 1871, was declared Doctor of the Universal Church by Pius IX, according to a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.“
St Eusebius of Vercelli (c 283-371) Bishop (Optional Memorial) Bishop, Confessor, Founder of monasticism in his region of Italy.
St Peter Julian Eymard SSS (1811-1868) – “Apostle of the Eucharist”Priest, Founder of two religious institutes, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.
St Auspicius of Apt
St Betharius of Chartres
St Centolla of Burgos
St Etheldritha of Croyland
Bl Frederic Campisani
Bl Giustino Maria Russolillo
Bl Gundekar of Eichstätt
Bl Joanna of Aza
Bl John of Rieti
St Maximus of Padua
St Pedro de Osma
St Peter Faber SJ (1506-1546) the “Second Jesuit” – as co-Founder with St Ignatius. He was the first Priest and theologian of the Order.
St Serenus of Marseilles (Died c 606) Bishop of Marseilles
St Pope Stephen I
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
Bl Fernando Olmedo Reguera
Bl Miguel Amaro Rodríguez