Our Lady of the Angels Chapel Renovation

Go Rebuild My House

In 1204, from the beautiful San Damiano Cross, Jesus spoke to St. Francis of Assisi in an audible voice saying: “Go rebuild my house which, as you see, is falling into ruins.” In response to this St. Francis zealously rebuilt a little abandoned chapel in the wooded valley below Assisi known as “Our Lady of the Angels” or “Portiuncula” or “little portion.” After thousands of Franciscans came to join him in a life of prayer, penance and evangelization, St. Francis realized that the principle meaning of these words referred to rebuilding the Catholic Church that Christ had purchased with his own blood.

Similarly the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit feel called to rebuild our chapel in St. Kateri Tekakwitha Friary in the desert of Arizona. We began renovating on January 1, 2018 and we hope to finish it on October 4, 2019.

Like the Portiuncula, this chapel will be little, holy, and beautiful. All those who pray with the heart in this silent place will hopefully encounter the beautiful face of Christ and “become fire.” From this chapel many friars and friends will be sent out on a mission to rebuild the Church and enflame hearts with the love of Jesus.

An Old and New Place to Pray

After the Franciscans left the Gila River reservation in the 1970’s the Native American parishioners would often come recite the Rosary in this little chapel, praying that the Franciscans would return and that Mass would be celebrated there again.

Beginning in 1987 after the Pope’s visitation to Phoenix, the Native people also had visions of fire people on the Estrella Mountains. They saw that fire spreading onto the rest of the reservation and then to Phoenix. When we arrived on May 13, 2015 Big Mike, the great-great grandson of Tashquinth, who was the one to initially invite the Franciscans to bring the faith of Christ to the Akimel O’odham, said: The “Franciscans have come home.” The Holy Spirit Mosaic in our chapel will reflect this prophecy.

The day we met with Bishop Olmsted to propose our mission, the Gospel at Mass was the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish. At that time we were five priests and two brothers. We believe that Jesus will multiply many Franciscans in this holy chapel by the power of the Holy Spirit. We now have thirteen friars and we are growing. Our Fishes and Loaves Mosaic on the floor represents this special Gospel story.

An Old and New Way to Build

All the great churches of Christendom have always been built by a zealous community of patrons, priests and artists.

We believe that the true beauty that fosters divine wonder is best found in authentic works of art crafted by the hands of artists deeply devoted to God. The Lord indeed has blessed us with an amazing community of local artists who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to make beautiful works of art to increase devotion to God.

These artists are inspired by the beauty of God and nature and in turn try to mediate this same experience to us through their unique material creations. In this way, artists are like priests in that they mediate the invisible divine world to us through the beauty of their visible creation. Only original works of art have this true form of beauty.

There is also always something of the original artist in the work of art that he has made. For instance we feel like we meet not only God but his servant Michaelangelo when we gaze upon the electric paintings of the Sistine Chapel. The faith, devotion, and sacrifice of our artists will be felt in this holy chapel.

We use natural materials such as wood, stone, metal, and glass to reflect the permanent nature of the Church and God. We also as much as possible try to use local materials like Grand Canyon onyx.

We invite you to come help us rebuild the Church with prayer and donations to our chapel.

Be a patron and become fire for the glory of God!

Inspiration

The story of Chartres Cathedral is our inspiration. In 1194 a bolt of lightning struck the spire of the great Chartres Cathedral and it caught fire. The people thought they also lost the Sancta Camisa, the garment Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus. However, after three days they found priests in the rubble who protected the garment. This was a sign from the Lord for the people of Chartres that they must rebuild the church. They did this within thirty years. Notre Dame in Paris took two hundred years to build. This lightning pace by which they rebuilt the cathedral makes Chartres the most authentic and beautiful Gothic Medieval cathedral in the world. It is also a special place because you can tangibly feel the zeal and devotion with which the artisans, patrons and priests rebuilt a new house for Our Lady.

Chapel Progress