Welcome to the website of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and its beautiful Lady Chapel, La 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 Lady Chapel 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 always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We thank you for your generosity of spirit.
This Wednesday, March 5th, is Ash Wednesday. Father Harold will be distributing ashes during the 12:15 Mass, which will begin our Lenten season.
As most of us are aware, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning our season of penance, reflection, and fasting, which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday and through which we attain redemption. You will notice Father wearing violet every day until Easter, except on four specific days (Saint Joseph, spouse of our Blessed Mary; The Annunciation; Holy Thursday; Holy Saturday) when he will wear white, and on Palm Sunday and Good Friday when he will wear Red.
Ash Wednesday is one of two days that the church requires Catholics to both fast and abstain from meat; the other day is Good Friday. In addition, Catholics are required to abstain from meat on each Friday in Lent. Pregnant or nursing women are excused from the fast and abstinence, as well as the physically or emotionally impaired and people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning "Spring," and lenctentid, which literally means not only "Springtide" but also was the word for "March," the month in which the majority of Lent normally falls. Since the earliest times of the Church, there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter.
In the desire to renew the liturgical practices of the Church, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican Council II stated, "The two elements which are especially characteristic of Lent -- the recalling of baptism (or the preparation for it) and penance -- should be given greater emphasis in the liturgy and in liturgical catechesis. It is by means of them that the Church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they hear God's word more frequently and devote more time to prayer."
Palm Sunday (April 13th), the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels.
Holy Thursday (April 17th) is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ, himself, of the Eucharist and of the institu- tion of the sacerdotal priesthood, as distinct from the 'priesthood of all believers'. For in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ's authority and command, in exactly the same way.
On Good Friday (April 18th), the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremo- nies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the 'Reproaches', in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.
Easter (April 20th) is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the center of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year. The order of Sundays from Septuagesima to the last Sunday after Pentecost, the feast of the Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and all other movable feasts, from that of the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden (Tuesday after Septuagesima) to the feast of the Sacred Heart (Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi), depend upon the Easter date.
A Quiet Place ~ In San Francisco, among the cafes and restaurants of North Beach, there is a special spiritual refuge. The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, which welcomes all people, provides a place of beauty, peace and reflection in a hectic city. For an additional Video about the the shrine, visit our "Pilgrimage Page".
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.