Realising that the call to solitude lies at the heart of our Franciscan vocation, the Franciscan Family continues to discover new ways of interpreting and living Saint Francis' Rule for Hermitages. Our Portiuncula is one example among many. We have tried to preserve Saint Francis' spirit of contemplative prayer, littleness, loving service, gospel simplicity and warm fraternity as the hallmarks of our hermitage experience.
We have five hermitages under one roof: Greccio, Poggio Bustoni, The Carceri, Fonte Columbo and LaVerna. In the company of Saint Francis each guest hermit is invited and challenged to explore the spirituality of a particular hermitage by journeying into the depths of one's own heart and into the Heart of God.
Out of his own need and experience, Saint Francis risked the journey into his own heart. It led him to total identification with the heart of Christ and forged in him a deep, compassionate love for all his brothers and sisters and for the whole of creation.
The hermitage experience offers the same invitation to those who feel called to it.
We adore You, O Christ and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
( Saint Francis)
The Brothers and Sisters whom the Lord has called to a life of contemplation should show forth their dedication to God with renewed joy each day and celebrate the love which the Father has for the whole world. (TOR Rule Ch 3 )
Those who wish may have a spiritual companion to accompany them in their solitude experience at the Portiuncula. The sister companion will be available at a fixed time built into the individual's timetable.
We respect each person's journey and desire only to facilitate the working of the Holy Spirit of God in whatever way meets individual need.
An invitation to experience Saint Francis's Rule for hermitages: this is a unique expression of the call to solitude which is original to Saint Francis but is relevant to every person that feels drawn to it.
The Portiuncula building falls naturally into a Martha and Mary rhythmn linked by the contemplation space in the centre. This is a simple way of expressing the gospel truth that in our everyday lives we have a rhythm of action and contemplation and our life of love in the embrace of the Trinity encompasses both.
The Father is the fountain fullness overflowing with goodness and love.
The Peace Garden associated with the Portiuncula captures something very dear to the heart of Saint Francis: his love of creation and his mission of peace. A central feature is a statue of Our Lady who is Mother and Queen of Peace. There are also representations from the lives of Saint Francis and Saint Clare symbolizing peace.
Towards the centre of the Peace Garden we have a labyrinth based on the model of the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. For many people the Christian labyrinth walk is a healing experience leading to deep inner peace.
There is also an outdoor Way of the Cross to facilitate the prayerful walk to Calvary with Jesus and Mary.
Recommended resources for the Franciscan Solitude Experience
Available from Gracewing Publications www.gracewing.co.uk or purchased and collected from the Portiuncula
For more information about the Portiuncula please contact St Clare's Convent or email firstname.lastname@example.org