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.


September 16, 2016
Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco

Three years ago at this time I was part of a delegation of California bishops who paid a pastoral visit to San Quentin State Prison. While there, we had the opportunity to meet with a number of the inmates on death row, hearing their stories, learning of the misfortunes in their lives, and becoming sensitized to their deep spiritual yearnings and innate desire for God. The experience put a human face on a tragic human condition that we very comfortably can — and usually do — completely ignore.

This experience also highlights the challenge we as a society face in determining how we can foster peace in this increasingly violent and complicated world. The answer is certainly not by inflicting more violence. As we, the Catholic bishops of California, said in our statement reaffirming our opposition to the death penalty: "Our support to end the use of the death penalty is also rooted in our unshakable resolve to accompany and support all victims of crime ... As we pray with them and mourn with them we must also stress that the current use of the death penalty does not promote healing. It only brings more violence to a world that has too much violence already."

We teach on this sensitive matter aware of the complexities of this issue, but also in communion with the bishops throughout the United States, with conferences of bishops throughout the world, and with the consistent teachings of the Popes of our time.

As Pope Francis has recently stated: "The death penalty is an offense to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it … does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance ... the basic purpose of all punishment is the rehabilitation of the offender" (message to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, June 2016).

As California citizens we have an opportunity to make our voices heard on behalf of the inviolability of human life and for rehabilitation over retribution. I ask you to join me in voting to end the death penalty in our state by voting Yes on Proposition 62, and voting No on 66. Doing so will put to end the myths of capital punishment — such as the assertion that it serves as a deterrent to violent crimes — and also to the flaws it perpetrates, such as its disproportionate use on the poor and minorities. Most tragic of all, though, is the finality of the sentence: no restitution is possible for a wrongful execution. Since 1973, 151 people have been released from death rows in the United States due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. How many were not so fortunate?

Voting Yes on Proposition 62 will be a vote affirming the human dignity of those on death row, affording them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. I also ask you to join me and my fellow California bishops by opposing Proposition 66. This Proposition would expedite executions in California. A rush to streamline that process will inevitably result in the execution of more innocent people.

In a decisive historical moment for the ancient people of Israel, when they were about to cross the Jordan River to occupy the Promised Land after wandering forty years in the Sinai Desert, Moses told them: "I set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you ... may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

We are likewise at a decisive moment in our country and state, and we, too, are given the same choice, a choice we will make when casting our vote this November. Let us choose life, then, that we may live.