Tag Archives: porziuncola

My St. Francis

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St. Francis has always held a special place in my life. Not really because of his life or his holiness, which my no means is meaningless, but simply because he is the one whom my birth city is named after…and he frequently seems to appear in my life at random times and in random places! I have a fondness for St. Francis and his gentleness with animals has always fascinated me.

October 4th was his feast day which reminded me of him and how he seems to find me wherever I go.

A few years ago, my husband and I took a trip through the Cento Valli above Lago Maggiore. One of the stops was Locarno where we visited the beautiful Madonna del Sasso sanctuary way atop the city. As were were wandering through the sanctuary, I found myself face to face with St. Francis! The first thought that came to me was that he was with me and protecting me and reminding me of my home. Of course, I had to take a picture of him!


Another time, we were visiting Jacuzzi Winery in Sonoma on Mother’s Day and lo and behold, whom should I find in the courtyard? Yep! St. Francis!


San Francisco is filled with shrines and memories of St. Francis. The famous Porziuncola at the oldest church in San Francisco, which naturally bears the name of St. Francis, is always there as a reminder to him. (here is a post about the shrine) The Porziuncola

Of course, the gorgeous ancient town of Assisi, in the Italian province of Umbria, is all about St. Francis…as this is where he lived and performed his ministry. The gorgeous church, with its countless frescoes, is a majestic tribute to this very holy man. And visiting this town only brings you more in tune with how special of a saint, and man, he was.


His love of all creatures has made him a special saint for animals, and during his feast day many animals are blessed! Even my crazy little Sophie dog was blessed at his holy day (even though she wasn’t a very obedient participant!)

St. Francis always seems to find me in my travels, rooting me always to that special city by the bay that I will always call home. But…now it’s my turn to look for St. Francis… I want him in my garden where I can see him every day. Keep a look out for a stone, or preferably bronze, garden stauary of St. Francis! If you see one, please let me know as I want him close to me at all times!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

San Francisco’s “Little Portion” of Italy

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Whenever I need a little Italy fix, I head to North Beach in San Francisco.  Here I can connect with my Italian roots – Italian is heard everywhere, the deli sells specialty items imported from Italy, the bakery entices me with wonderful espresso and goodies, and I can eat some wonderful Italian food in restaurants that are quaint and very similar to those found in il Bel Paese.  And now, since 2008, I can even see an exact replica of the famous Porziuncola of Assisi.   Because San Francisco’s patron saint is St. Francis of Assisi, this was a logical place to build this place of devotion so important to the life of  St. Francis.

This project came to fruition thanks to Angela Alioto, one of San Francisco’s most influential politicians and a follower of  St. Francis.  She dreamed of bringing this little bit of Italy to her city.  So, with the blessing of the Franciscan fathers, marble and rocks from Assisi, as well as frescoes created by Italian artists in a little Umbrian town, all came together to build and decorate this shrine. 

St. Francis originally built his Porziuncola to show his adoration for God.  Today it stands as a reminder of peace and love.  The Friars of Assisi donated a special holy rock for this new Porziuncola that was used by St. Francis himself when he built his holy chapel.  It symbolizes all St. Francis  held dear – global peace, love of the world and all its creatures, and love for the poor and the  sick.  The rock holds a special place of honor at the front of the chapel where it can be seen and touched.  This chapel, like the one in Assisi, is a holy place consecrated by the Pope.  It is a place where one can ask for “Plenary Indulgence.”  Upon entering the chapel and going through some cleansing steps of confession, your sins will be instantly forgiven.

The church which houses the Porziuncola, St. Francis of Assisi in North Beach, sits on a street that will be transformed into a piazza within the next couple of years.  The plan is to close off the street to traffic and create a piazza like those found in Italy.  This statue will adorn the piazza, and it will be created by a famous Italian sculptor.  It is a recreation of St. Francis stretching the sails on a boat during his voyage to Egypt.  Being that San Francisco is a maritime city, this depiction of St. Francis’ life seemed to be an appropriate choice.

The word “porziuncola” means “a little portion of the world” and this has become one of my little portions of Italy.