Porziuncola in Assisi Reminds Faithful About Power of Forgiveness, Especially in Month of August

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Currents News Staff

Four years ago, the pope made a quick but emotional and profoundly meaningful visit to the Porziuncola in Assisi. He participated in the 800th anniversary celebration of the “Pardon of Assisi.” From there, he reminded the faithful that the path of mercy can truly renew the Church and the world.

“The world needs forgiveness,” he said. “Too many people are caught up in resentment and harbor hatred, because they are incapable of forgiving. They ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them, rather than finding the joy and serenity of peace.”

Still relevant today, this message has its roots here, in this place. What is the pardon of Assisi? It’s the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence on the first two days of August. The tradition was born out of a mystical experience St. Francis of Assisi had in the year 1216.

“It’s a fact that emerges from a temptation,” said Franciscan Brother Pasquale. “St. Francis is behind the Porziuncola, near an average rosebush, when he’s tempted. How does he choose to face this temptation? After several moments of resistance, he decides to throw himself upon the rosebush, naked. However, the Lord rewards him in the moment in which he throws himself onto the rosebush and the roses lose their thorns.”

That same rosebush, without thorns, is preserved to this day.

After this event, two angels accompany St. Francis to the place of the Porziuncola. There he sees Christ and Our Lady. God asks the saint what he wants from Him. St. Francis asks for a plenary indulgence for all pilgrims who visit that chapel.

“God grants him this petition at a time when plenary indulgences can be obtained only by making long trips to the Holy Land, which not everyone could manage, and which were even dangerous,” said Brother Pasquale. “Francis didn’t understand how such an essential gift (the forgiveness of sins) could be inaccessible to some, especially the poorest.”

Then he goes to Pope Honorius III, who recognizes that it is a direct grace from God.

For centuries, indulgences could only be obtained at the papal Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. 

Now, it can be obtained at any Franciscan church or any parish church in Assisi. To receive the “Pardon of Assisi,” a few requirements must be met: going to confession, receiving communion and praying for the pope’s intentions.