El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula: Or How Los Angeles Got its Name

in Religion and the Arts
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‭This study traces the route by which the city of Los Angeles came to be called by that name. Late in life St. Francis retired to a tiny hut on “a little piece of property,” una porziuncola near Assisi. Because angels were frequently heard singing there, the area around his hut was known as “La Valle di Nostra Donna degli Angeli.” Here, Francis experienced two appearances of Mary and her Son, during which he obtained the revolutionary plenary indulgence known as Il Perdono d’Assisi. The Porziuncola became a pilgrims’ shrine, and Francis’s hut was transformed into a huge basilica dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli. Reception of the indulgence slowly spread throughout Europe, and most particularly in Spain. Columbus, who was a Franciscan Tertiary, after a stay in the monastery of Our Lady of the Angels at La Rábida, set sail on his momentous journey on the feast of the Perdono (2 August). The indulgence was carried to the New World by the Franciscans where the devotion developed a wide-spread cult. Three hundred years later, the Spanish king’s army, accompanied by Franciscan friars, journeyed up the western coast and came upon a clear stream, which they called la Porciúncula. In 1781, the New World City of the Angels was founded in the cult’s honor.‬

El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula: Or How Los Angeles Got its Name

in Religion and the Arts

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10

‭VictoriaUn Pintor en su tiempo: Baltasar de Echave Orio 48; color illustration plate 356 opposite page 112. The painting is now in the Museo Nacional de Arte Mexico City.‬

Figures

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    Figure 1

    Ilario Zacchi of Viterbo. Porziuncola Altarpiece, 1393. Tempera on wood. Cappella della Porziuncola, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Italy. Photograph courtesy of Bernardino Sperandio.

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    Figure 2

    Tiberio d’Assisi. Narrative of the Perdono, 1512. Fresco. Altar wall, Cappella dei Terziari, San Fortunato, Montefalco, Italy. Photograph courtesy of Elvio Lunghi.

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    Figure 3

    View of Porziuncola Chapel, c. 1224–1226. Santa Maria degli Angeli, crossing. Photograph courtesy of Bernardino Sperandio.

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    Figure 4

    Federico Barocci. Il Perdono di San Franesco, 1572–1574. Oil on canvas, 427×236cm. High Altar, San Francesco, Urbino, Italy. Photograph: Scala / ArtResource, New York.

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    Figure 5

    Federico Barocci. Il Perdono di San Francesco, 1581. Engraving and etching, 545×330mm. British Museum, Inv. V, 8.180, London, United Kingdom. Photograph: © Trustees of the British Museum.

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    Figure 6

    Baltasar de Echave Orio. The Porciúncula Miracle, 1609–1610. Oil on wood, 251×165cm. El Templo de Santiago, Tlatelolco district, Mexico City, Mexico. Photograph: © D.R. Museo Nacional de Arte / Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura, 2012.

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    Figure 7

    Puerta Porciúncula. El Templo de San Mateo, Capulálpam de Méndez, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photograph: Manuel Parada López de Corselas, 2010; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (public domain).

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