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.
Church Renovation Project
Our renovation resumed last Monday morning. HOORAY! The new wood subfloor was laid by Thursday evening and the hundreds of 12" granite square tiles began being laid Saturday morning. The projected date of our new floor being completed is the middle of September. Look for updates and progress photos in the next bulletin.
The Shrine "Main Church" is closed until further notice. Mass is being said in the Porziuncola.
The current renovation of the Shrine began on schedule Monday afternoon, April 28th, as all the pews were removed from the church. A few days later, the moving crew (Kennedy Van and Storage) secured our precious items so that we could prepare the Porziuncola for daily mass as you see it now.
As you can imagine, many, many prayers have been offered upon the 80 kneelers removed from our National Shrine and historic church in preparation for the summer installation of a new granite floor, restored pews, and new kneelers. The old kneelers, which vary in length from 27 inches to 56 inches, are in excellent shape. Father Harold and I are hoping to find them a good home with another church or organization so they don't end up in a landfill. If you know anyone who might be able to use them, please direct them to us or us to them. Time is running out. Our phone number is 415 986-4557.
Saint Clare of Assisi
Feast Day: August 11th
"We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing." St. Clare
Clare was a beautiful Italian noblewoman who became the Foundress of an order of nuns now called "Poor Clares." When she heard St. Francis of Assisi preach, her heart burned with a great desire to imitate Francis and to live a poor humble life for Jesus. So one evening, she ran away from home, and in a little chapel outside Assisi, gave herself to God. St. Francis cut off her hair and gave her a rough brown habit to wear, tied with a plain cord around her waist. Her parents tried in every way to make her return home, but Clare would not.
Soon her sister, St. Agnes joined her, as well as other young women who wanted to be brides of Jesus, and live without any money. St. Clare and her sisters wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. Yet they were very happy, because Our Lord was close to them all the time. Once, He saved them from a great danger in answer to St. Clare's prayer. An army of rough soldiers came to attack Assisi and they planned to raid the convent first. Although very sick, St. Clare had herself carried to the wall and right there, where the enemies could see it, she had the Blessed Sacrament placed. Then on her knees, she begged God to save the Sisters.
"O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now," she prayed. A voice seemed to answer: "I will keep them always in My care." At the same time a sudden fright struck the attackers and they fled as fast as they could. St. Clare was sick and suffered great pains for many years, but she said that no pain could trouble her. So great was her joy in serving the Lord that she once exclaimed: "They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?" We should remember this miracle of the Blessed Sacrament when in Church. Then we will pray with great Faith to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist: "Save me, O Lord, from every evil – of soul and body." (Catholic.org)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.