Thursday, 2 August 2012

St Mary of the Angels

Today, August 2nd is a commemoration of particular significance for the Franciscan Tradition, Our Lady of the Angels. The little Chapel that bears this dedication, also known as the Portiuncula, the Little Portion, stands at the foot of the approach to Assisi, now contained within the Basilica that serves as a Protecting Veil over the place Francis saw as a gift from the Lord, when he and his first group of little brothers needed a shelter and a chapel.

An early life of Francis tells us that, 'in olden days, there had been built in this little portion a church in honour of the Virgin Mother, who, by her unique humility was worthy to become the highest of all the Saints after her Son. In this place, the Order of Friars Minor began and here, as on a firm foundation, arose their noble structure in its vast array.' The Chapel is still regarded as the Mother House of all Franciscan Orders, and is also the site of Francis' Transitus, or passing.

"Franciscans celebrate today as the feast of Dedication of all Franciscan Churches, particularly when no other date is known. The origin of the dedication to 'St Mary of the Angels' is obscure. However, Mary received the good news of Christ's coming by the message of an Angel and then herself was the first to share that message with humanity. So Mary is the chief patron of Franciscans, and her intercession at the throne of grace in the heavenly places is the subject of constant pleading and gratitude by all the followers of Francis and Clare. " (The Late Brother Tristam SSF)

Loving God,
by the message of the Archangel Gabriel
Mary received your word
and by her willing obedience
brought forth him who is the world's redemption:
may we, like her, share the good news of his coming
and with Angels and Archangels
give praise and glory to you for ever;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever, Amen.