Pronounced [por-sing’-ku-la], the family name is a derivative of portiuncula. This word is a likely abbreviation of the Italian phrase porzione piccola or “tiny portion”.
Portiuncula is a chapel (also called St. Mary of the Angels) near Assisi, Italy where St. Francis began the Franciscan order in the thirteenth century. The Portiuncula Indulgence is the first plenary indulgence that was ever sanctioned by the Catholic Church. The indulgence grants to he who visits a church on August 2 and confesses his sins with a contrite heart, freedom from all temporal punishments and purity as after holy baptism. The indulgence was named after the church where St. Francis’ apparitions prodded him to gain Pope Honorius III’s approval.
In 1769, a Spanish expedition in California came across a river that they named El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula or “the River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula.” Twelve years later, 12 families settled in the area and named their community El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, after the nearby river. In later years, the city became known as Los Angeles.
The line, as we know it, originates from San Bartolome, Malabon, Philippines — where Cirilo Porcincula was born. At the time, Malabon was within the jurisdiction of the province of Rizal. Physical features of the clan indicate a likely Chinese lineage. A Eugenia de Leon Porcincula female married in to the San Diego Family in 1933.