Thanks be to God!
In all things let us praise the Lord

Last Sunday we experienced a beautiful celebration of worship and hospitality as we welcomed the Relics of Saints Pio and Leopold to our Shrine. It is easy to be appreciative of the many ways people helped to make the event so special. I would like to give special note to our many volunteers who assisted with liturgy and all aspects of presenting our nice reception. The assistance of Trish Herman and Rodney Esperanza (my new Admin. Asst.) was greatly appreciated, as they guided the day’s events. I voice the sentiments of one and all when I say “Bravo!” to Mr. Steven Meyer and his Boys Choir for their beautiful music within the Mass and during our Reception — thank you.

We have a small but beautiful and vibrant community of faith here at the Shrine that is also an important part of the community of North Beach. The Shrine's bond with our North Beach neighbors was nurtured in a generous way by several of our local restaurants who kindly donated all aspects of our menu for the event, and other needed supplies. I want to publicly acknowledge these particular businesses and express my gratitude for their assistance.

As they have generously stepped forward to help our Shrine with such a special day, I invite you to consider supporting their businesses.
- Fr. John

Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy

Greetings my brothers and Sisters,

Together we are given the opportunity to welcome the Relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Leopold Mandic — two Capuchin Franciscan saints, who Pope Francis has chosen as co-Patrons for the Extra Ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

As we receive these holy Relics at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, the Christian faithful (and all humanity for that matter) are given the opportunity to welcome the mercy of God - so to enter and dwell more deeply in our lives.

On May 1st, our shrine community processes with the relics of Sts. Pio and Leopold to the Shrine. This short walk more truly initiates a spiritual journey where all of us, easily inspired by these saints' witness to Christ's generous and compassionate mercy, find ourselves more convinced that that divine mercy is for us, and more clearly understand that we can do no other than to share Christ's mercy with our sisters and brothers.

When I went to Rome this past February to be commissioned as a "Missionary of Mercy", Pope Francis stressed to the thousands of the Missionaries of Mercy, that a proper appreciation for and genuine experience of God's mercy in the Christian's life was a vital "first caress" to all efforts at Evangelization.

We are to be a light unto the nations - enticing others by the love of God and the hope of the Gospel. This light cannot be hidden under a bushel basket. Let us pray that we together, as one family of faith, that we maybe enflamed with the mercy and love of God and welcome others "home".

- Fr. John De La Riva, OFM Cap., Rector

St. Pio (1887-1968)
In 2002 many people gathered as Pope John Paul II canonized the Capuchin friar known to the entire world as "Padre Pio."

Born Francesco Forgione, at age 15 he joined the Capuchins taking name Pio. Ordained in 1910, Pio came to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, and on September 20, 1918, received the stigmata.

For nearly 50 years, Padre Pio was a minister of God's mercy. After morning Mass he would hear confessions for almost 10 hours a day. Many penitents said that he knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. St. Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering and God's healing power often came through him. He continued his ministry of mercy until his death on September 23, 1968.

St. Leopold, (1866-1942)
A native of Croatia, St. Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and after his ordination spent most of his life in Padua. St. Leopold was a teacher, but he was best known for his work in the confessional. Despite poor health, he would often spend 13-15 hours a day hearing confessions. He was known for his kindness and patience with penitents. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.

Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God's grace and mercy. He would say, "I must cooperate with the divine goodness of our Lord who has deigned to choose me so that by my ministry, the divine promise of mercy might be fulfilled." St. Leopold died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.

Pope celebrates Capuchins
the Denver Broncos of religious life

The crypt, or ossuary, beneath the "bone church" - the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome - contains the remains of 4,000 Capuchin friars buried between 1500 and 1870. (Wikimedia Commons)

By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor February 9, 2016

My formation in the faith was thanks to Capuchin Franciscan priests and brothers out on the high plains of western Kansas in the 1970s and 80s, and as a result, I believe I can speak from personal experience when I say this: The Capuchins are, in many ways, the Denver Broncos of religious life in the Catholic Church.

Not for them is the flash and sizzle of a Cam Newton and his trendy Carolina Panthers, with "dabbing" celebrations and the public swagger of celebrity. They don't light up scoreboards or reinvent offensive strategies.

They simply play the game right, rooted in solid fundamentals and a determined defense, and pile up wins - even when the world is picking against them.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis delivered a long-overdue recognition of the Capuchins by celebrating a special Mass for members of the order in St. Peter's Basilica, part of a series of events celebrating the Capuchins' most famous son: Padre Pio, now "St. Pio of Pietrelcina," the 20th-century stigmatic and confessor seen by devotees as an icon of compassion.

The Padre Pio festival comes in tandem with commemoration of another Capuchin saint, Leopold Mandi? of Croatia, a late 19th and early 20th century priest who suffered severe physical disabilities but, like Padre Pio, still managed to spend long hours in the confessional every day.

Pope Francis paid tribute to that legacy on Tuesday, telling the Capuchins, "There are great confessors among you ... you Capuchins have this special gift of the Lord: forgiveness. I ask you, never tire of forgiving."

The Annuario Pontificio, the Vatican's statistical yearbook, lists about 800 men's orders in the Church, all of which have a story to tell. Precisely because Capuchins don't call attention to themselves, however, several interesting elements of their tale are often lost.

Continued here.

Welcome to the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and the namesake of our city, San Francisco. The National Shrine is the property of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and it consists of our historic Church built in 1849 and our beautiful Chapel (La Porziuncola Nuova, or Little Portion) built in 2008.

The National Shrine is not only located in the heart of San Francisco where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" in a singular way where Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in our city.

One of the reasons this Shrine is unique is its very urban location in the second most densely populated city in the country. But in the midst of an often rowdy, noisy, bawdy, and chaotic neighborhood (a bronze marker in the sidewalk reminds us that this was once "The Barbary Coast"), the Shrine's Church and the Porziuncola offer an oasis of peace, quiet, serenity, and refreshment to the thirsty spirit.

Saint Francis was very aware that all of God's creation is holy and that it reflects his beauty, truth, and goodness. But Francis appreciated churches, especially, because he knew that in these sacred spaces people could find and recognize the presence of God's spirit more easily than "in the world." That is why the Little Poor Man of Assisi dedicated a good portion of his life to rebuilding old abandoned churches, like San Damiano (where he had heard the voice of Jesus Christ) and Saint Mary of the Angels Porziuncola (or Little Portion).

We hope during your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi you will experience something of the reverence, tranquility, and blessings people find when they enter our actual doors. Thus, we invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site as often as you like, while allowing "The Heart of San Francisco" to become a place where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!

We also invite you to take the opportunity to participate in the mission of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi by sharing with us your financial support, either by making a donation or by shopping at our online store. But even if you're unable to give anything at this time, please know that you are always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your generosity of spirit.

St. Francis of Assisi Mission

The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, as with The Archdiocese of San Francisco, has a mission that is rooted in the Gospels and the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Central to that teaching is the inherent dignity and sacredness of each human being.

We educate and advocate on this dignity in relation to the unborn child, the prisoner on death row, the homeless and hungry person on our streets, the elderly, the ill and disabled faced with the threat of assisted suicide, the stranger in our midst, and the poor and marginalized in our society and throughout the world. We are neither right nor left, Republican nor Democrat, but we formulate our agenda by the standard of human dignity that is reflected in our faith tradition.

  1. It is the purpose of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi to provide more abundant means of salvation, through the rich liturgical and devotional life of the Roman Catholic Church for the Christian faithful, including those who come as pilgrims from around the world to the City of San Francisco and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, who seek to encounter the living God through religious worship and special devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints.
  2. It is the further purpose of the National Shrine to welcome, share and extend this same spiritual experience and devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints to pilgrims and visitors of all faiths, religions, denominations, and nationalities.
  3. The Capuchin Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.) and Staff of the National Shrine, therefore, provide a pastoral (i.e., welcoming and prayerful) environment with the hope that in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, spiritual nourishment healing and reconciliation will be found by all who visit the Shrine.