National Shrine Holiday Schedule

The Porziuncola Chapel portion of the National Shrine is scheduled to be open every day but Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The Church and Rectory portions of the National Shrine will be closed from December 20th to December 31st with the exceptions of Mass being served on:

Christmas Day at 11:00am
Sunday December 28th at 11:00am
Monday December 29th at 12:15pm

Fr. Harold Snider

Welcome to the website of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and its beautiful Porziuncola Nuova. This complex is not only located in the heart of San Francisco, where Chinatown and North Beach meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" where, in a very real way, Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in The 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 it all 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." This 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 heard the voice of Jesus Christ, and St. Mary of the Angels of the Little Portion-the Porziuncola.

I hope that, through your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, you will experience something of the reverence and tranquility and blessings that people find here when they enter our doors. I invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site often. Allow "The Heart of San Francisco" to become someplace where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!

I 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. But even if you cannot give anything at this time, know that you are always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We thank you for your generosity of spirit.

God, tear open the heavens and come down!

by Fr. Robert Wild

While praying and reflecting on the prophet Isaiah I came across this passage, which spoke powerfully to me about hope and what hope really is: "Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down to make your name known, working unexpected miracles such as no one has ever heard of before" (Is 64:1).

"Unexpected miracles!" In the scriptures, our God is a God who does new and unexpected things. Think for a moment of some wonderful thing, some totally unexpected blessing that happened to you, something you never dreamed would happen, never dared to ask for. In the scriptures, hope is not simply people asking God to help with their own plans. Hope is about unexpected miracles.

Think of the patriarch Joseph, for example, who was thrown into a well by his brothers. I'm sure he prayed, "Oh God, get me out of this well!" He never would have dreamed of praying, "Oh God, rescue me from this well and raise me to a position of great power in Egypt." But that's exactly what happened. God not only rescued him, but because of Joseph's goodness and trust in the Lord, made him one of the great men of neighboring Egypt. (Gen, ch 37-50)

Consider Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel (Sm 1:1-28) praying, "Oh God, give me a child." She never would have dreamed of praying, "Oh God, give me a child and let him become one of the great prophets of Israel, so great as to anoint the first king of your people." She never would have asked for that, but that is exactly what happened.

Remember David tending his flock. He probably often asked God for large and healthy flocks when he grew up. He never would have dreamed of asking God that he become the chief shepherd of his people, Israel. But that's exactly what happened.

All throughout the scriptures, people have little plans and little ideas. God looks on them and says, "Why are your hopes so small? Don't you know who I am? I am the God who created the universe. I hold the whole future and all possibilities in my hands. You have no idea what I'd like to do for you, what I'm able to do for you, what I desire to do for you."

Even with Our Lady, God was greater than her desires. She was praying for the coming of the Messiah, as all Jewish maidens did at that time. Full of grace though she was, did Mary-even Mary-ever imagine that God himself would come in the flesh? Who did Mary think the Messiah would be? A king greater than David, a prophet greater than Elijah, a priest greater than Aaron, a legislator greater than Moses. But did she ever conceive the plan in the Father's heart? God even said to her, to Mary, "Your plans are too small, your hopes too limited. I myself will come and save my people!"

Who ever would have prayed for that! Who ever would have suspected that God himself would come! Maybe Our Lady's hopes were that immense, but certainly no one else's were.

In our own lives we often conceive hope as God helping us out with our small plans. Christian hope is hope in God, a God who can do so much more than we could ever hope or imagine. Our God, the God of the scriptures, the Father of Jesus, is Someone who does totally unexpected miracles. Who ever would have expected the resurrection!

Haven't those of us who have tried to follow Christ in faith often experienced new and wonderful blessings? Haven't we seen God do things in and around us that have amazed and excited us and filled us with wonder? And he will do much more if we keep following him and put our hope in him.

We hope in God, not merely in the success of our plans with God's help. God's plans, we may be sure, will be much more vast and fruitful than ours. God told Abraham simply to travel west; he told Moses to go to Egypt. He didn't tell them too much else, except that he, the God of gods and the Lord of lords, would be with them.

God is constantly trying to get us to put our hope in him. "We don't know what the future holds," it has been said, "but we know who holds the future." So we walk into the future hand in hand with God. It most certainly may not be what we had planned but it will be something much better—what God has planned. Who ever would have expected that God himself would come to save us? What wonders still lie ahead of us in the immense creativity and goodness and omnipotence of God!

Copyright: © 2000 Madonna House Publications – With Permission under a Creative Commons License.

Church-Hall Revonation Photos

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 St. 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.