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‘Pardon of Assisi’ offered to shrine pilgrims on Francis’ feast day Christina Gray

October 1, 2015
Catholic San Francisco

Pilgrims who visit the National Shrine of St. Francis on Oct. 4, the saint’s feast day, and meet certain sacramental conditions may receive the “Pardon of Assisi,” a plenary indulgence, according to shrine rector Capuchin Father John De La Riva.

A plenary indulgence, which removes in full, temporary punishment due to sin, may be gained by Catholics visiting sacred places such as the shrine, he said.

“The purpose of an indulgence is to make reparations for these punishments, either for oneself or for another,” said Father De La Riva. A faithful Christian may offer prayers and good works determined by the rightful ministerial authority of the church and thereby draw upon the inexhaustible good of Jesus Christ and the saints to correct and make right that which has been corrupted through sin.

The basic conditions for an indulgence on the feast of St. Francis, according to the rector, are a sacramental confession, Communion and the recitation of specific prayers for the intentions of the pope. The conditions can be met on the feast day itself or eight days prior or following.

Contrary to popular belief, an indulgence is not a way of earning or buying forgiveness from God, but rather a “remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven through the merits of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The National Shrine of St. Francis, a pilgrimage site located at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Vallejo Street in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, includes the historic shrine church built in 1849 and La Porziuncola Nuova, a replica of St. Francis’ church in Assisi, Italy.

Because the feast of St. Francis lands on a Sunday this year, the readings and prayers will reflect the settings for the Sunday in ordinary time. Confessions will be heard at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. prior to Mass at 11 a.m. to assist with the reception of the indulgence.

The blessing of the animals, a popular tradition on the feast of St. Francis, will be made at 1 p.m. on the steps of the shrine church.

The Transitus, a prayer service held by Franciscan communities each year on the evening before the feast of St. Francis, marks the passing of Francis from this life into God. It will be presented this year by the Knights of St. Francis in the Porziuncola Chapel.

Father De La Riva was installed as rector at the beginning of 2015. A former Los Angeles police officer, he replaces outgoing rector Capuchin Father Harold Snider, who late last year was elected provincial of the Capuchin Franciscans, Western America Province, in Burlingame.

“The feast of St. Francis reminds us to reawaken our spirit to the beauty and power of Christ’s love present not only in the life and mighty witness of a few, but in the very fibers of the whole body of Christ – the church,” he said.

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