Welcome to the website of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and its beautiful Lady Chapel, La Porziuncola Nuova. This complex is not only located in the heart of San Francisco, where Chinatown and North Beach meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" where, in a very real way, Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in The 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 Lady Chapel 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 it all 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". This 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 heard the voice of Jesus Christ, and St. Mary of the Angels of the Little Portion-the Porziuncola.
I hope that, through your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, you will experience something of the reverence and tranquility and blessings that people find here when they enter our doors. I invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site often. Allow "The Heart of San Francisco" to become someplace where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!
I 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. But even if you cannot give anything at this time, know that you always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We thank you for your generosity of spirit.
Blessing of the Animals 2013
St. Francis' Shrine Should Remain Open to All
From the San Francisco Chronicle
By Fr.Harold Snider, O.F.M., Cap and Fr. Matthew G. Elshoff, O.F.M., Cap.
At the corner of Vallejo and Columbus - in an often noisy and chaotic San Francisco neighborhood - the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi offers an oasis of peace, quiet, and refreshment to the thirsty spirit.
Unfortunately, a small and vocal group has claimed a part of the shrine, the Porziuncola Nuova, as its own. While strong feelings for this special place are understandable, some of this group's tactics do not square with the peaceful mission of St. Francis.
Though the shrine is one of the holiest places in America for Roman Catholics, we regularly welcome hundreds of pilgrims, worshipers and tourists alike. This is how "the little poor man of Assisi" would have wanted things - open to all.
Given the interconnectedness of both of St. Francis' namesakes - the church and the city - it could not be any other way.
Our church predates the founding of the city of San Francisco and the state of California. The present Norman Gothic church, with its elegant twin campanile, was dedicated in March 1860, but its roots go back to a wooden shack built by Army personnel in 1849. Bishop Joseph Alemany consecrated the new structure for St. Francis Parish in 1851. Parish leaders laid the cornerstone of a new church on Oct. 2, 1859.
Fires after the 1906 earthquake consumed the church's interior. The brick walls of the church, together with its scorched towers, remained intact. In March 1919, the Catholic community of San Francisco rededicated the newly restored - and steel reinforced - church. Then, the 1989 earthquake led to another closure, this time for almost nine years.
Today, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and donors, the church is renewing itself again. Visitors see exquisite murals by the Italian painter and illustrator Luigi Brusatori that vividly portray the life of St. Francis. Radiant stained-glass windows depict Gospel events. The church's magnificent pipe organ was installed in 1926 by the Schoenstein Organ Company of San Francisco, enlarged in 1993, and is a regular voice in all of our liturgical celebrations. Many more renewal projects are in the works.
What has drawn special attention to the shrine is La Porziuncola Nuova, a scaled replica of the Benedictine chapel St. Francis restored as a young man. The Porziuncola, which is part of the national shrine, is also open to worshipers and visitors alike. We are fortunate to have numerous volunteer docents who give of their time to provide information, and a friendly face, to our visitors. The National Shrine Church is open most every day of the year. More volunteer docents will enable all of the church, including the Porziuncola, to remain open every day.
We are grateful to the Archdiocese of San Francisco and most especially to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for entrusting the Capuchin Friars with the responsibility for the oversight of the National Shrine of St. Francis.
This small group that seeks to claim the Porziuncola as its own has, unfortunately, launched highly personal attacks on church leaders and volunteers who do not agree with them. Wednesday's Open Forum piece by Angela Alioto provides a taste of the vitriol. In one recent incident, police had to be called to calm one of this group's disruptions in the Porziuncola. We have implored them to stop, and talk directly with us, yet they persist.
In the coming months, San Francisco can look forward to a restored shrine, refreshed and modernized in structure and restored in spirit. We envision more public events, featuring music, lectures, and presentations. St. Francis' church will become even more intertwined with his city.
All of the shrine will remain open to all. Exclusion will be a matter of personal, not institutional, decision - limited to those who wall themselves off from the spirit of inclusiveness and the embrace of all people, regardless of views. An oasis of peace and reflection for all of San Francisco - that is truly what St. Francis would have wanted, and that is what we are bringing to life.
Fr. Harold Snider, O.F.M, Cap. is Rector of the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, responsible for promoting the church's mission and administering its daily opera-
tions. Fr. Matthew G. Elshoff is Provincial Pinister of the Western American Province of Capuchin Franciscans, the order responsible for the care of the National Shrine.
Advent Invitation of Pope Francis
Sunday, December 1, 2013
"I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: 'Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.'
How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another 'seventy times seven' (Mt 18:22), has given us his example: He has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!"
A Quiet Place ~ In San Francisco, among the cafes and restaurants of North Beach, there is a special spiritual refuge. The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, which welcomes all people, provides a place of beauty, peace and reflection in a hectic city. For an additional Video about the the shrine, visit our "Pilgrimage Page".
It is the purpose of the community of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi:
- To offer spiritual nourishment, reconciliation and an encounter with God's love to all people who enter;
- To provide a rich experience of the sacramental life of the Church for the faithful who come seeking grace;
- To reach out to communities of faith and social organizations throughout the nation by bringing them the insights of Franciscan theology, Franciscan spirituality and perspective on peace.