As Catholics across the world prepare for the Holy Year of Mercy, the Franciscan Friars of Burlington are doing their part by hosting a Day of Prayer where Catholics may receive an indulgence on Dec. 13.
An indulgence – the remission of temporal punishment for sins – is customarily granted to those who make a pilgrimage to Rome and fulfill certain other conditions: reception of the sacraments of penance and Eucharist, visits and prayers for the intention of the pope and performing simple acts such as visiting the sick.
During the upcoming year, Pope Francis is calling upon Catholics to reflect upon the virtue of mercy, to replace judgment with pardon. The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy begin this Tuesday, Dec. 8, and runs through Nov. 20, 2016.
“I am convinced that the whole church – which has much need to receive mercy because we are sinners – will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God,” Pope Francis said upon announcing the jubilee this past spring.
On the grounds of their rolling, rural landscape in Burlington, the Friars have a quaint and peaceful exact replica chapel of the original St. Mary of the Angels of the Portiuncula (“Little Portion”) in Assisi, Italy, one of three chapels St. Francis rebuilt while founding the Franciscan order.
The Day of Prayer celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Portiuncula Pardon.
St. Francis of Assisi wanted everyone who visited the Portiuncula, Mother Church of his friars, to experience forgiveness and blessing.
The Feast of Pardon, as it is called in Italy, continues to attract thousands of visitors to Assisi.
“In 1216, Francis petitioned Pope Honorius III that a special blessing or indulgence be given to anyone who made a pilgrimage in
if you go
The Day of Prayer will be
connection with peacemaking and reconciliation,” according to Franciscan Fr. Kim Studwell of the Burlington Friary.
The Friars of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary province built the replica chapel in 1940, not long after they purchased the Burlington property and settled there in 1932, explained Fr. Studwell.
Built with stone and adorned with a mosaic image of the pardon above the arched door, the chapel exterior is flanked by statues of St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua. Inside the chapel is a San Damiano cross, also in mosaic, and a statue of St. Francis in repose under the altar donated by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee. The chapel seats about 25 people and is in need of some repair, admitted Fr. Studwell.
The Friary has a main house and attached larger chapel that has served as a home for the Franciscans, as a retreat center, a philosophy house and seminary, and currently houses 16 friars, including novices.
For many years at Christmas, midnight Mass was celebrated with the voices of the friars filling the chapel in song from the choir space
Catholics are welcome to visit the grounds to pray at the meandering mosaic Stations of the Cross, the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto, and the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa — the Black Madonna of the Poles.
Dressed in long brown robes with rope belts, Fr. Studwell and his fellow Franciscans follow the way of St. Francis, living vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
“St. Francis wanted to live the Gospel,” explained Fr. Studwell. “He renounced his family inheritance and worked with lepers.”
Today, the Franciscans are involved with many different ministries such as mission work, Catholic shrines, education and helping immigrants.
To receive the indulgence and to celebrate the opening of the Year of Mercy at the Day of Prayer on Dec. 13, pilgrims must receive the sacrament of reconciliation, offered at 1 p.m., participate in the celebration of Mass at 3 p.m., pray for the Holy Father, recite the Profession of Faith and pray one Our Father.