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FUS's "Port" Named Site for Plenary Indulgences

Vatican Announcement has Pro-Life Component

Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009

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The Portiuncula at Franciscan University

STEUBENVILLE, OH—The tiny Portiuncula Chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been designated by the Vatican as a place where the faithful can receive a plenary indulgence—an elimination of the temporal punishment due to sin.

The special designation comes in the form of a decree recently issued by the Vatican office of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Franciscan University president, Father Terence Henry, TOR, said, “This is an extraordinarily gracious act by the Holy See that will provide an abundant outpouring of God’s mercy on the thousands of people who visit the Portiuncula Chapel every year.”

The decree holds special significance because of its reference to the pro-life movement and because it is not limited to a single day in the year, as is the case with many plenary indulgences.

According to the decree, the indulgence may be obtained at any of five times during the year: August 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula; October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi; January 22, the dedication of the Tomb of the Unborn Child located next to the Portiuncula; and on any day during the year of a person’s choosing, or while completing a “holy pilgrimage” to the Portiuncula with a group.

“The University is particularly honored that the Holy See would designate the day on which the Tomb of the Unborn Child was established for a plenary indulgence,” said Father Henry. “This is a clear affirmation of the sanctity of human life and of the infinite dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.”

January 22, the date of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., is also the date when the first of seven aborted infants was interred in the large stone memorial near the Portiuncula in 1987. A continual flame burns at the site, welcoming the many students and visitors who go there to pray for an end to abortion and for all the victims of abortion.

The plenary indulgence decree was issued by the Office of the Apostolic Penitentiary, which is under the direction of James Francis Cardinal Stafford, the former archbishop of Denver. The request for the decree came through the office of Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Steubenville in recognition of the Portiuncula’s history as a beloved place of prayer and eucharistic adoration.

Completed in 1987, the Portiuncula, or “Port” as it is called by students, is a replica of one of the first churches near Assisi that St. Francis repaired after Jesus commissioned him to “Go, rebuild my Church.” During academic semesters, many students go to the Portiuncula for eucharistic adoration, which is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Vatican decree went into effect on February 11, 2009, and will remain in effect for seven years. Bishop Conlon will officially promulgate the decree on Friday, April 24, at 4:00 p.m. at the Portiuncula Chapel. Attendees will include Father Henry, Father Christian Oravec, TOR, minister provincial for the Third Order Regular Sacred Heart Province, members of the Franciscan University Board of Trustees, and many other guests.

The University welcomes visitors from near and far to come to the Portiuncula to seek a plenary indulgence.

“We are excited that residents in the Ohio Valley can receive this indulgence without traveling far,” said Father Henry. “We know our students, faculty, staff, the thousands of visitors who come here each summer for retreats and conferences, our graduates who return for alumni events, parents and prospective students, and many others will take part in the special graces now available to them here.”

Unlike a partial indulgence, which reduces time in purgatory, the plenary indulgence grants the complete remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, so that no further expiation is required in purgatory.

According to the decree, those who desire to gain the plenary indulgence should “devoutly” visit the Portiuncula Chapel, where they pray for the intentions of the Holy Father including the Our Father and the Creed. In addition, it is necessary that the Church’s ordinary conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence be met: Individuals must have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin; have made a sacramental confession; and have received the Holy Eucharist. These must be completed within a week to 10 days before or after the visit to the Portiuncula.

The plenary indulgence can be obtained for the person completing these requirements or may be applied to the souls of the faithful departed.

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