About the La Porziuncola and Renaissance Project
The Shrine will become an international symbol for "peace and good" — in the words of Saint Francis, "pax et bonum."
The renewed National Shrine will be one of the world's sanctuaries — a place to rest, think, meditate, and pray — a spiritual destination attracting thousands who want to follow in the footsteps of Saint Francis and share in his legacy.
The exciting Renaissance Project has recreated the little church that Saint Francis himself rebuilt. He named this little church the "Porziuncola", meaning "little corner of the world", that is, his "portion".
It was here that Saint Francis began to understand his vocation to follow the Gospel and give up all worldly goods, pray for and advocate peace, and of course, take care of the poor and sick. The Porziuncola is also the place where he founded the Franciscan Order of the Friars Minor in 1209, "establishing here his home".
In 1216, Jesus appeared to Saint Francis in a vision and granted his request that all who entered the Porziuncola be pardoned. The Porziuncola continues to be one of the rare Holy Places in the world!
The first phase of the Renaissance Project has been to replicate the Porziuncola in San Francisco's North Beach. It is adjacent to the main church at the National Shrine of Saint Francis for all to see, visit and pray in this sacred place of contemplation and prayer, and to feel the energy of the spirit of Saint Francis.
“Every feature of the Porziuncola lifts the heart and mind to God”
Donate to the Project:
Franciscan Relic of a Rock used by Saint Francis himself to rebuild the Porziuncola in Assisi. It symbolizes global peace, love for the environment, love for the sick and the poor, and, of course, love for all animals. It was given to the San Francisco Porziuncola as it’s cornerstone in April, 2008, by the Friars in Assisi.
Saint Francis of Assisi was born in 1182, the only son of Pietro Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant of central Italy. Peitro gave his son the name of Giovanni at baptism, though he afterwards altered his son’s name to Francesco, perhaps in honor of his trading in France. Pietro’s worldly success had secured for the young Francis a care-free life of material comfort. Francis was a popular youth, often the center of attention, who could be found engaged in sport, frequenting the piazze of the city, or confidently serenading the young women of Assisi.
Francis eagerly sought the glory and honor of battle and in 1201, at the age of 19, outfitted himself as a knight in order to join the war with Assisi’s rival, Perugia. After an abrupt defeat, however, Francis spent nearly a year as a prisoner of the neighboring city-state while his father raised the money in 1203 to pay his ransom.
Though he turned frequently to the Sacred Scriptures for comfort, imprisonment and illness had shattered his self-assurance. Moreover, instead of reassuring him, the Gospel challenged Francis with the still unfamiliar values of Christian discipleship.
In 1205 he again tried to outfit himself as a knight, but after suffering another illness, he had a vision that marked the beginning of his conversion. He was 23 years old.
Uncertain and pensive, he returned to Assisi where his initial depression soon became an emotional crisis. His old way of life and his old friends left him feeling disillusioned and empty.
His evident dissatisfaction with the material comforts of his life frustrated his father, particularly as Francis spontaneously began to share his family’s wealth with the poor.
Indeed, the lack of understanding between the two provoked harsh, angry words from the father and a sullen, hostile silence from the son. Pietro failed to recognize the turmoil in his son; Francis could not express himself to his father.
Born of a crisis of human understanding, his search for inner peace and new direction put Francis on the road to conversion.