In the most striking aspect of their proposed 1,200-seat church, Our Lady Queen of Angels officials plan to build a replica of the Portiuncula Chapel in central Italy, the favorite church of St. Francis of Assisi.
A photographer will spend three days this month at Portiuncula to capture the stone chapel on digital film, which will be used to produce architectural plans.
"We'll get every little nook and cranny," Father Vincent Gilmore said. "This will be museum quality. You won't have to go to Assisi to see what the Portiuncula looks like."
A basilica was built around the original chapel in the mid-16th century after pilgrims nearly overran the tiny church.
The connection is in the name: the Italian church that is home to the Portiuncula Chapel is St. Mary of the Angels, also referred to as Our Lady of the Angels.
"We want to tie into the tradition because everything around us is so modern," Gilmore said. "We want to get that same feel."
St. Francis had restored the abandoned chapel--built in 360--when he took literally the words he said he heard from God: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." The Portiuncula Chapel was the third church he restored where he had the vision in 1208 that led to his founding the Franciscan Order. He also died there.
The replica--13 by 22 feet--will be built behind the altar of the new church.
It will hold the holy sacrament and also be available for prayers and devotions. The chapel can hold 20 people.