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The Portiuncula Indulgence


The Portiuncula

One night in the year of Our Lord 1216, St Francis was immersed in prayer and contemplation in the little church of the Portiuncula, when suddenly a very radiant light filled the church and Francis saw Christ over the altar and covered with splendour and on His right His Holy Mother, surrounded by a multitude of Angels. Francis silently worshipped his Lord with his face on the ground!


They then asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls. Francis’ answer was immediate: “Lord, although I am a wretch and a sinner, I pray that all of those who, repentant and having confessed their sins, will come to visit this church, may be granted abundant and generous forgiveness, with a complete remission of all faults”. “What you ask, Brother Francis, is great,” the Lord said to him, “but you are more worthy of greater things and greater will you receive.” I therefore grant your prayer, but on the condition that you ask my Vicar on earth, on my behalf, for

this indulgence”.


And St Francis immediately presented himself to Pope Honorius III, who in those days was in Perugia and told him with candour the vision he had. The Pope listened to him attentively and after some thought, gave his approval. But he then said, “For how many years would you want this indulgence to be?” Francis promptly replied: “Holy Father, I do not ask for years, but for souls”. And joyfully, he went to the door, but the Pontiff called him back: “But wait, do you not want official documents to ratify this indulgence?” And Francis replied: “Holy Father, your word is enough for me! If this indulgence is the work of God, He will be the one to take care of revealing His work; I do not need any documents: this document represents the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christ being the Notary and the Angels the witnesses “.

And a few days later, together with the Bishops of Umbria, to the people convened at the Portiuncula, he said with tears: “My brothers, I want to send you all to Heaven!”.


To benefit from the indulgence, three conditions must be met: Sacramental Confession, Holy Communion, and a visit to the church which enjoys the privilege of the Portiuncula where one must pray (at least one Our Father and one Hail Mary) for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff who have granted and confirmed the indulgence, and pray one Our Father, one Apostle’s Creed, and one other prayer of the individual’s choice while in the church. Confession and Communion may be received in the eight days preceding or following the visit.


The churches for which the indulgence can apply include: all churches of the various Franciscan Orders; all the cathedrals, the minor basilicas, and finally all parish churches.

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