St Clare, Virgin – 11 August
Clare’s father was a count, her mother the countess Blessed Orsolana. Her father died when the girl was very young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, Clare confided to him her desire to live for God, and the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday in 1212, her bishop presented Clare with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. With her cousin Pacifica, Clare ran away from her mother‘s palace during the night to enter religious life. She eventually took the veil from Saint Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi, Italy.
Clare founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; this lack of land-based revenues was a new idea at the time. Clare’s mother and sisters later joined the order, and there are still thousands of members living lives of silence and prayer.
Clare loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, chivalrous, and every day she meditated on the Passion of Jesus. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who’d kicked off their blankets. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrance at the convent gates, and prayed before it; the attackers left, the house was saved, and the image of her holding a monstrance became one of her emblems. Her patronage of eyes and against their problems may have developed from her name which has overtones from clearness, brightness, brilliance – like healthy eyes.
Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would display on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television. She was ever the close friend and spiritual student of Francis, who apparently led her soul into the light at her death.
St Clare was born on 16 Jul, 1194 at Assisi, Italy and died on 11 August, 1253 of natural causes.
He, Christ, is the splendor of eternal glory, “the brightness of eternal light, and the mirror without cloud.” Behold, I say, the birth of this mirror. Behold Christ’s poverty even as he was laid in the manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. What wondrous humility, what marvelous poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of heaven and earth resting in a manger! Look more deeply into the mirror and meditate on his humility, or simply on his poverty. Behold the many labors and sufferings he endured to redeem the human race. Then, in the depths of this very mirror, ponder his unspeakable love which caused him to suffer on the wood of the cross and to endure the most shameful kind of death. The mirror himself, from his position on the cross, warned passers-by to weigh carefully this act, as he said: “All of you who pass by this way, behold and see if there is any sorrow like mine.” Let us answer his cries and lamentations with one voice and one spirit: “I will be mindful and remember, and my soul will be consumed within me.” – from a letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague by Saint Clare of Assisi