SAN FRANCISCO OPENS ARMS WORLDWIDE TO PEACE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI – NOUVA PORZIUNCOLA DEDICATED

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BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Founder
Copyright © 2008

San Francisco opened her arms worldwide Saturday to those cleaving peace promised by the little monk from Assisi.

A new place was opened. A Nouva Porziuncola.

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The Blessing of the Porziuncola
at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi
in San Francisco, CA.

Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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William Cardinal Levada
Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

Opened by Proclamation of a Pope, sanctified by a Prince of the Roman Catholic Church, and delivered by a singular daughter of San Francisco who thereby ranks permanence in Franciscan history.

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Angela Alioto with granddaughter Chiara Mia Lind
Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

The San Francisco Nouva Porziuncola, an exact replica of Francis’ original Porziuncola in Assisi, opened rod iron gates to the public following procession and Mass concelebrated by San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer and William Cardinal Levada.

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Fathers and Friars await the arrival of His Eminence
Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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The Blessing of the Porziuncola at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in San Francisco, CA. Reverend Robert Bob’ Cipriano, rector, is joined in the celebration with his Eminence Cardinal William Joseph Levada and his Excellency most Reverend George H. Niederauer, pictured, among other religious leaders of the Bay Area
Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“The new Porziuncola Chapel is a precious addition to this National Shrine of St. Francis who is Patron of our great City,” stated William Cardinal Levada.

“It recalls by its beauty, and its immediacy among us, the most important moments of the life of a poor man of Assisi, his vocation, the founding of his Franciscan Friars, his immitations of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

“So this Chapel will be from now on a reminder of the goodness endowed in the remarkable life of our brother Francis, and an invitation to us to strive to immitate this goodness in our own lives.

“It’s also more than that.

“Through the Indulgence of The Porciunzola granted today, this Shrine takes an active role in helping pilgrims and visitors achieve a share in that goodness whose source is the incarnate Son of God, Jesus himself.

“The Shrine Committee has paid a lot of attention to the gift of a very special rock from the Porziuncola in Assisi.

“It came over with the Franciscan Friars, It was shown off in the De Young Museum. It’s going to be a featured point of this Porziuncola Chapel.”

“When I first came here as Archbishop of San Francisco, it was only a year later that we had a major earthquake in which the Basillica which houses the Tomb of St. Francis, which is decorated with some of the most splendid examples of midieval Italian art, many of the frescos were damaged and the mosaics fell to the floor.

“I thought to myself, ‘This is a City that has known many, many earthquakes — in 1906 we had an earthquake which destroyed much of this City, in 1989 the Loma-Prieta Earthquake caused damaged to many parts of our City, and especially to many of these old churches, the Catholic churches, many of which have been restored with new bracing to upgrade current to City and County codes, some of them still on the way to being restored.

“This church still has some upgrading to be done to make it an entirely up to earthquake code church.

“And the church was closed, because in the pastoral plan my predecessor put into place it was felt that it would be impossible to restore all of the churches, so they picked out those that were preceived to be most useful to the worshipping community.

“And I came and I thought to myself knowing the historic history of this church.

“This was the first church in the town that became San Francisco.

“It had already been established since the time of 1776, same year as the founding of our country.

“But that was miles out of town on the slopes of Twin Peaks.

“And when gold was discovered and this port began to fill up with people, this was the first church established and it’s history, I think, needed to be recognized and we needed to find a way to keep it a vital part of our City.

“So in that sense, we thought of making a Shrine of St. Francis — our Patron is St. Francis, after all — and to not reopen it as another parish church but as a shrine church that could be a benefit to pilgrims.

“Indeed, all of the Missions that attract so many visitors to California Missions over the years, this kind of like a capstone for the Missions because for these people who visit the Missions from that outreach of Franciscans who found these Missions up and down California, leads them to the man who was the spiritual father of them, the votive force for these Missions, that is their Father St. Francis.

“So I hope in this sense that that rock that comes from the Porziuncola that it can keep its connection, which I take as an earthquake connection as well.

“We took up a collection of all parishes of all sizes and we were astonished by the several hundred thousand dollars that people generously gave the people of Assisi for their needs.

“I took that collection over to Assisi and gave some of that to the Basillica — we didn’t have to restore the artworks, the Italian government took care of that restoration — we gave it to the Bishop of Assisi who had people living out in these little tent houses, they couldn’t go back into their own homes.

“He had a home for handicapped children, which was out of its building, and he said, ‘Oh, this is wonderful!. We can use this right away!

“We contributed on that occasion as kind of a concrete act of our Sister City relationship which seems to now continue with this new link that we have with the City of St. Francis of Assisi and with the great Sanctuary Porziuncola.

“So I’m very delighted to be with all of you on this occasion and I thank you.”

Archbishop George Niederauer invited all to continuing journey.

“I think it remains only to say, for me this is the beginning, a wonderful beginning, of a continuing journey for us so that we can really welcome the world, beginning with San Francisco and the Bay Area, but welcome the world to this wonderful shrine and this wonderful Porciuncola,” echoed San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer.”

“I think that if you will stay with us on this journey and accompany us with your prayers, with your encouragement, with the resources that you’re able to share with us, that we will be able to complete the restoration of the Shrine Church and the program of Franciscan spirituality that we look forward to.

“So thank you once again for being here. Thank you again for what you’ve done and for what you are doing — a plea to stay with us and walk with us this journey of Francis.

“Thank you very much. God bless you.”

The mayor of San Francisco likened the City to the goals of St. Francis.

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“Standing in there moments ago and seeing all of those wonderful kids come up and speak of peace, talk of the remarkable universiality that is peace, reminds me so much of what this City is about at its soul,” compared Mayor Gavin Newsom.

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

“It is the birthplace of the United Nations.

“We’re a City that has long been a City more of doers than dreamers.

“A City that on its very foundation here, a church that was originally built before it was rebuilt after the Great Quake of 1906, was at the birth of our City, 1849, when people came from around the world riches and new beginnings.

“It was at the core of that foundation of our City that we recognized that our faith is tied to the faith of others.

“This replica is something to celebrate. It is an extraordinary effort.”

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

A spokesman for the San Francisco Interfaith Council spoke of a simple monk.

“In the Book of Proverbs it written that a people without vision shall perish,” noted Michael Pappas, Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

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Michael Pappas, right
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“Dear friends, today we celebrate an inspired vision.

“We celebrate the visiion of an incredible saint, and the energy, determination, and zeal of a woman who was inspired by the vision of that saint.

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“Amidst so many religious, civic, and diplomatic dignitaries, I stand before you humbled yet at the same time emboldened to say just a few words about a simple monk whose words and deeds have left an indelible mark upon civilizationl, and certainly our beloved City who bears his name and is privileged to claim him as Patron.

“St. Francis’ life is legend. Invocation of his very name inspires us to do good. To help the poor. To be kind to animals and to respect creation.

“Equally, St. Francis is hailed as the model peacemaker courageous in his endeavors to bridge the divide among people of different faiths.

“In fact, by virtue of Francis’ zeal to love all human beings, he found himself catapulted into the role of interfaith activists and pioneers.

“Indeed, he challenges us to risk — confronting and overcoming prejudice by casting aside fear, and dialoging with one another.

“Dear Angela, you are truly a visionary. You have invested so very much in this project with its many incredible implications.

“Your love for saint whom you acknowledge with confidence as ever-present, and refer to in the familiary as Francesco, reminds us that his message and zeal for love is timeless.

“Never more so than the present is such a reminder essential.

“In the central space of the Porziuncola, Francesco invites us and he challenges leaders of all faiths to gather and to wrestle with the issues that divide us, but more importantly to work together to seek peace and justice in our City and in the world.

“For this great vision and these sacrificial efforts, Angela, the interfaith community of San Francisco is indeed indebted to you.

“To our guests here from Assisi, who have crosses the seas to bring to us the greetings and blessings of that holy place, we thank you.

“Today we celebrate your journey which now a sacred part of our rich history. May your stay with us be joyous and fulfilling as we celebrate the successful completion of this beautiful and inspired project.

“A special thanks is extended to our spiritual hosts and true leaders, the cultivation of interfaith relations, Cardinal William Levada and Archbishop George Niederauer, on whose behalf I extend greetings to the many interfaith representatives that gathered here today.

“The presence of these religious leaders truly enriches our fellowship and affirms the inclusive and universal message of the saint whose presence in San Francisco will be felt in magnificent Porziuncola we have built.

“To all who have joined in this festival of events, may God bless you and God keep you.”

It was Angela Alioto’s dream but credit for dream come true goes to Francis, she insisted Saturday.

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Angela Alioto
Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

“This little Porziuncola was done by St. Francis,” Alioto related to public gathering following Mass.

“Make no mistake.

“It wasn’t me — it was San Francesco!.

“I would get up in the morning and do things — I had no idea what I was doing — but my mind told me, ‘Go measure, go do this, go do that.

“Francesco loved it. He’s been my best friend for 40 years of my life, and quite frankly I couldn’t live without him.

She reitered her call for the Porziuncola to be included in the City Seal of San Francisco.

“I told Mayor Gavin Newsom, ‘We need to put our little Porziuncola in the crest of San Francisco because people are going to be saying, ‘I have to go to the Porziuncola in San Francisco — and I have to see the Golden Gate Bridge… while I’m there.’

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

“The Porziuncola is one Phase One of the Four Phase Project.

“Next is the upper Church. We’re going to do the inside with gorgeous frescas and marble.

“Let me just say, the marlbe on the floor is done by Maricio Molti.

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Maricio Molti
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

Before artist Stefano Lazzari heard of the San Francisco project, he had a dream about a woman named Angela.

Alioto initially contacted Lazzari at suggestion of the Assisi hotel concierge.

“Who can I get to do frescos?” asked Alioto.

“He picked the phone up and he called Stefano.

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Angela Alioto, William Cardinal Levada, Stefano Lazzari
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“He said, ‘Stefano, there is a woman here named Angela that wants to meet you.’

“Stefano says, ‘Omigawd, I dreamt about an Angela wanting to meet me!

“So he jumped in his car and got there in 20 minutes.

“From that day on his incredible faith, his faith, his love, his working not for money — the artist in Italy did not work for money — the jewels we have in the Porziuncola cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what we paid for them.

“Once I started, and I had all the artists onboard, I had a little money but I didn’t have all that was needed so I had to go out and find people.

“These three people, they just happened to be women, stepped up to the plate — Nancy Kline, of Kline Vineyards, Jacuzzi Vineyards never to be forgotten, she was right there for us.

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Nancy Kline, center, enjoys company of Stefano Lazari and Angela Alioto during Friday dinner held before Saturday opening of San Francisco Nouva Porziuncola
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“The next person is DeDe Wilsey.

“DeDe Wilsey wrote out an enormous check and handed it to me, and you know what she said, she said, ‘Angela, if you believe this much and have this much faith then I want to get behind that kind of passion,’ and she handed me a huge check.

“And I’ll never forget her.

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Philanthropist DeDe Wilsey
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“The next woman who stepped up to the plate is Elisa Stevens who, you know, the Academy of Art — they’re all over town, right?

“It was great to get to know her. She is an amazing human being.

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Elisa Stevens
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

“She not only gave financially big-time, she sent her artists over” who produced the medieval fresco see just priior to entering the Porziuncola.

“And it’s just absolutely gorgeous.

“Now this little Porziuncola is going to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Francisco.

“Now this little Porziuncola is the tipping point.

“As I said, we’re going to do the upper church, we’re going to do the rectory right behind you, and a school of political thought based on Franciscan values.

“There will be scholar there who will teach you about the environment, teach you about taking care of your neighbor, teach you about no war, and teach you about animals and our environment.”

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong
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Sentinel Photojournalist Jason Steinberg
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Gian-Paolo Alioto Veronese
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Xenia Stefanidou, Consul General of Greece
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Willie Brown and Joe Alioto Veronese
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Former San Francisco Supervisor Alycia Becerril
and The Very Reverend Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral

Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

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Rita Semel seen in process, Vice Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council
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Gavin Newsom, Alfonso Alioto Veronese
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Photo by Jason Steinberg Imagery © 2008

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