Santa Maria degli Angeli is a frazione of the comune of Assisi in the Province of Perugia, Umbria, central Italy. It stands at an elevation of 218 metres above sea level. At the time of the Istat census of 2001 it had 6665 inhabitants, and is located c. 4 km south from Assisi. The name of the city was used by the Spanish Franciscan missionaries as the name of Los Angeles, now one of the largest cities of the United States.
It is home to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which includes the Porziuncola, the most sacred place of the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Francis of Assisi himself died here. The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels) is a church situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi, Italy, in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli. The basilica was constructed between 1569 and 1679 enclosing the 9th century little church, the Porziuncola, the most sacred place for the Franciscans. It was here that the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor and thus started the Franciscan movement.
The Basilica contains the tiny Porziuncola chapel, a church Francis is said to have restored by his own hands. Of course, with fame comes attention, and the exterior of the tiny chapel has been tarted up with a rather gaudy facade: marble-clad and decorated with 14th and 15th century frescoes by Andrea d‘Assisi. Also inside the Basilica: the Cappella del Transito contains the cell where St Francis died in 1226. The basilica is flanked by the Thornless Rose Garden and the Cappella del Roseto.
This little church was given around 1208 to St. Francis by the Abbot of St. Benedict of Monte Subasio, on condition of making it the mother house of his religious family. It was in bad condition, laying abandoned in a wood of oak trees. He restored it with his own hands. Porziuncola, also called Portiuncula (in Latin) or Porzioncula, is a small church in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli, situated about 4 kilometers from Assisi, Umbria (central Italy). It is the place from where the Franciscan movement started. The name Porziuncola (meaning “small portion of land”) was first mentioned in a document from 1045, now in the archives of the Cathedral of San Rufino, Assisi.