Begin to plan your visit to a Franciscan Church on August 2, the Feast of the Portiuncula. Why? Pope Honorius III granted a special petition from St. Francis of Assisi that anyone can obtain a plenary indulgence (be freed from all temporal punishments.) It still is in effect today.
About Portiuncula Indulgence
Here’s an excerpt from the Friars Minor explaining how this gift of forgiveness came about. (It is good to read it more than once!)
One day (it was in October, 1221) while he was bitterly weeping in his cell over poor, unfortunate sinners, an angel suddenly appeared and told him that the Son of God in company with his Virgin Mother and a host of angels had visibly descended into the Portiuncula church and would permit him to appear before His throne of grace. Without delay the saint repaired to the little church and found there all as the angel had told him. Full of holy awe he threw himself upon his face and adored Jesus most profoundly. Jesus looked graciously upon him and permitted him to ask any favor, with the assurance of obtaining the object of his request. The saint took courage and begged that all sinners visiting the church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart might receive full pardon.
Jesus replied to him: “Francis, you ask much, but I will favor you with greater things still; your prayer is granted, but go to my vicar, the Pope, and in my name ask for the indulgence which I have granted to you.” The wonderful apparition disappeared; no one was more rejoiced than Francis. The next day in company with one of his brothers he hastened to Pope Honorius III. and, prostrate before him, besought him to proclaim that every one visiting the church and there confessing his sins with a contrite heart would be as pure from all sin and punishments as he was immediately after baptism. Honorius was astonished at this strange petition, and hesitated to grant it. But Francis said: “What I ask, I do not ask of myself; our Lord Jesus Christ sends me to you and commands me to make this request.” The Pope having been convinced of the truth of his speech, granted his petition and ordered that the little church should be solemnly consecrated and the indulgence proclaimed for the second day of August.
From that time pilgrims from all parts of the world flocked to the Portiuncula church in order to gain the indulgence, and numberless were the conversions which occurred at that shrine of grace. In order to make this indulgence more accessible to the faithful, the Popes subsequently extended it to all the churches of the Franciscans. Afterwards it was extended to all parish churches, and the first Sunday of August was appointed as the day for gaining it.
Read more, click here. Find out what distinguishes the Portiuncula indulgence from all others. Recall or learn what other necessary requisites there are to receive this gift of grace.
St. Francis Chapel
What grace and beauty to behold: this gift to God from hearts so bold.
This chapel of Franciscan love; this holy Portiuncula.