The Carmelite order of the Catholic Church dates back to 1155. The group originated in the Holy Land as a group of hermit monks, but gradually transformed into a mendicant order—one that takes a vow of poverty and austerity—of friars and nuns that live in service to the poor. Today, the order exists in many nations of western Europe and the United States.

According to the traditions of the Carmelites, on July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock. A hermit by nature, Simon Stock had became a Carmelite during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from England. It was upon his return to England that Simon received his vision of the Virgin Mary while in Cambridge, England. During the vision, she revealed to him the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, popularly known as the "Brown Scapular." The words she spoke were:

"Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection."

This was a transformative moment for Simon Stock, and in the following years he transformed the Carmelite order from one of hermits to one of mendicant friars and nuns that lived in social service to the poor and sick. He was elected Superior-General of his order in 1254.

A century and a quarter later, the Carmelite order began to celebrate the day of Simon's vision, July 16, as the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The feast celebrates the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary shows toward those who are devoted to her, and who signal that devotion by wearing the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, those who wear the scapular faithfully and remain devoted to the Blessed Virgin until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance and be delivered from Purgatory early.


Pope Francis reflects on Jesus' interaction with the disciples on the way to Jerusalem during the Consistory in which he created 14 new Cardinals.

(Vatican City; June 28, 2018) Pope Francis on Thursday invited the 14 new Cardinals to follow Jesus, to eliminate vain and self-centered discussion in the Church, in order to further the interests of the Father. He drew inspiration from the Gospel of Mark (10:3245) read during the Ordinary Public Consistory.

Hearts revealed
The disciples are walking with Jesus to Jerusalem having just heard the prediction of his passion the third time. Jesus walks ahead of them. Pope Francis defines this moment as important and crucial, one in which "the heart can speak and reveal the intentions and tensions within us." The secrets hidden in the disciples' hearts begin to manifest themselves: "the quest for honours, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise," Pope Francis said.

Hearts refocused
Jesus continues walking ahead without focusing on their pettiness. "The Lord tries to refocus the eyes and hearts of his disciples" by firmly saying "It shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant" ( Mk 10:43). The Pope said Jesus gave us this principle to eliminate vain and self-centered discussions from the community of disciples in order to bring out the best in their hearts.

Hearts converted
Pope Francis continued saying Jesus' teaching is that of conversion. He said conversion allows the Church to seek the Father's, rather than personal, interests. The "moment of truth" happens when we come face to face with those in distress. Keeping their faces before us helps us carry out the Church's mission; losing sight of those faces we get bogged down "in the pursuit of our own interests and securities", the Pope said.

Hearts in service
In conclusion, Pope Francis reminded the new Cardinals that Jesus continues walking at their head. His example of washing the disciples' feet before "bowing his head on the cross", the Pope said, is the greatest honour to which the Cardinals are called.

This is the highest honour that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God's faithful people.

- Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, FSP ; Catholic News Agency


VOLUNTEERS: The Rector is looking for people willing and able to assist with light house-keeping: *(sweeping, dust mopping, mopping, emptying trash cans) for the Shrine church and chapel. It would be helpful to have regular assistance from volunteers from one to three times a week. If interested and would like more information - please contact the Shrine office by phone (415) 986-4557 or e-mail info@shrinesf.org.

Welcome to the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and the namesake of our city, San Francisco. The National Shrine is the property of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and it consists of our historic Church built in 1849 and our beautiful Chapel (La Porziuncola Nuova, or Little Portion) built in 2008.

The National Shrine is not only located in the heart of San Francisco where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" in a singular way where Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in our city.

One of the reasons this Shrine is unique is its very urban location in the second most densely populated city in the country. But in the midst of an often rowdy, noisy, bawdy, and chaotic neighborhood (a bronze marker in the sidewalk reminds us that this was once "The Barbary Coast"), the Shrine's Church and the Porziuncola offer an oasis of peace, quiet, serenity, and refreshment to the thirsty spirit.

Saint Francis was very aware that all of God's creation is holy and that it reflects his beauty, truth, and goodness. But Francis appreciated churches, especially, because he knew that in these sacred spaces people could find and recognize the presence of God's spirit more easily than "in the world." That is why the Little Poor Man of Assisi dedicated a good portion of his life to rebuilding old abandoned churches, like San Damiano (where he had heard the voice of Jesus Christ) and Saint Mary of the Angels Porziuncola (or Little Portion).

We hope during your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi you will experience something of the reverence, tranquility, and blessings people find when they enter our actual doors. Thus, we invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site as often as you like, while allowing "The Heart of San Francisco" to become a place where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!

We also invite you to take the opportunity to participate in the mission of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi by sharing with us your financial support, either by making a donation or by shopping at our online store. But even if you're unable to give anything at this time, please know that you are always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your generosity of spirit.

St. Francis of Assisi Mission

The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, as with The Archdiocese of San Francisco, has a mission that is rooted in the Gospels and the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Central to that teaching is the inherent dignity and sacredness of each human being.

We educate and advocate on this dignity in relation to the unborn child, the prisoner on death row, the homeless and hungry person on our streets, the elderly, the ill and disabled faced with the threat of assisted suicide, the stranger in our midst, and the poor and marginalized in our society and throughout the world. We are neither right nor left, Republican nor Democrat, but we formulate our agenda by the standard of human dignity that is reflected in our faith tradition.

  1. It is the purpose of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi to provide more abundant means of salvation, through the rich liturgical and devotional life of the Roman Catholic Church for the Christian faithful, including those who come as pilgrims from around the world to the City of San Francisco and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, who seek to encounter the living God through religious worship and special devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints.
  2. It is the further purpose of the National Shrine to welcome, share and extend this same spiritual experience and devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints to pilgrims and visitors of all faiths, religions, denominations, and nationalities.
  3. The Capuchin Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.) and Staff of the National Shrine, therefore, provide a pastoral (i.e., welcoming and prayerful) environment with the hope that in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, spiritual nourishment healing and reconciliation will be found by all who visit the Shrine.