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.

The Miracle of Prayer

by: Catherine Doherty

How many of us have been taught to pray? In the home, in the parish, prayer must be given first place. Prayer must become an integrated part of our daily lives, the most important part. We cannot go on in this era of twilight between two civilizations, one dying and one being born, without the fullness of our spiritual heritage, without prayer.

The first step in praying is to understand who we are. We must acknowledge that we are creatures, saved sinners, entirely dependent on God. We must be, as the Bible says, anawim, poor people of God, the people of the Beatitudes who know that they depend on God. We must face ourselves and realize that we cannot exist on our own, that we are dependent on God.

To the proud, this is detestable. We look at ourselves and want to say, "I depend on no one." But in the very saying, we realize that this is not so: we do depend on God. This is the beginning of prayer: that we become beggars before God.

To begin to pray we must first cleanse our souls of arrogance and pride. Only when we come to God in humility, realizing our inner poverty, can we follow him who had nowhere to lay his head. Prayer is the interpersonal relationship of a poor person with the Poor Man: Jesus Christ.

The real answer to all our problems is to turn toward God with lifted hands, trusting in his promises and mercy, moved by love. If a person stands with uplifted hands, as Moses did, then the miracle of action will take place.

Christ has said, "Without me you can do nothing." But if in prayer we are one with him, we can do everything. This is the miracle that takes place: by prayer a person extends himself. He remains on "the mountain" of prayer but at the same time the power of his prayer brings action, whatever is needed.

We must all lead one another to the top of the mountain to pray, because prayer is dynamic, and prayer is holy. As we grow in union with God we come to realize that it is through prayer that stems all the goodness that God wants to give mankind.

What is this prayer, what is this union with God, then? It is a man or a woman or a child moved with his or her whole being to communicate with the loving God, to respond to God's great love. The words of prayer change into beautiful songs when they reach God.

Whether we pray the rosary, offer petitions for relatives or the needs of the world, we are caught up in something greater than ourselves, something that is cosmic: The whole universe is bowing down in adoration to God, and those who pray and who love him join in that adoration.

There is only one way to lead people to God: teach them to pray, and pray for them.

Adapted from The Gospel Without Compromise by Catherine Doherty

Catherine Doherty (1896-1985), born in Russia, was foundress of Madonna House and a prolific writer and teacher. Her passionate zeal impelled her to pass on her faith in God, and she is now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.

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

Church-Hall Revonation Photos