Monday, December 29, 2014

Assisi - Santa Maria degli Angeli

December 27, 2014

One of the largest, most beautiful churches in Assisi is the Santa Maria degli Angeli (Santa Maria of the Angels).

The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels) is a church situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi, Italy.  The basilica was constructed  between 1569 and 1679 enclosing the 9th century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor and thus started the Franciscan movement.

The Porziuncola

The Porziuncola.

The chiesetta (little church) of Porziuncola (Italian for "Little portion") is the most sacred place for Franciscans.  Francis was given this little church, dating from the 9th century, by the Benedictine monks.

According to a legend, the Porziuncola was built in the 4th century by a group of hermits from Palestine using stones coming from Monte Subasio. It is a tiny space measuring just 7 by 4 metres with a small apse. In 576 it was the home for the friars of Saint Benedict. The Porziuncola was the third church Francis refurbished after he had a vision and it became his favourite place. There, Clare renounced temporal goods embracing a life of poverty; there Francis died on the evening of 3 October 1226.

Despite its small size, the Porziuncola has always been the destination for a large number of pilgrims; many of them travelling there just to obtain a plenary indulgence (forgiveness of all sins) achieved solely by entering the small church. It is not by chance that the entrance door is out of proportion compared with the tiny building: it was widened in 1900 to provide easier access to the increasing crowds of pilgrims.

Live dove inside basket

The basilica was filled with nativities from all over the world.

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