Monday, August 13, 2012

St. Clare of Assisi

Saturday (August 11) was the feast day of St. Clare, virgin and founder of the Second Order of St. Francis, informally known as the Poor Clare nuns. She is also the patron of my home parish, and one of my favorite saints.

St. Clare was born into a rich family in Assisi, Italy. Her mother was a very pious woman, making pilgrimages to places such as Rome and the Holy Land. Always devoted to prayer, her parents wanted her to marry at 15, but she persuaded them to wait until she was 18. Her plans changed when she heard Francis of Assisi preach, when she then decided to become a nun, devoting herself to God. She originally went to live with the Benedictine sisters, but was almost pulled out by her father, who wanted her to marry. 

St. Clare's Tunic and Mantle

Later, she was joined by her sister, Agnes, and they moved to the church of San Damiano, which Francis rebuilt. Other women joined them, eventually her own mother, and they became known as the "Poor Ladies."  Unlike the Franciscan Friars, the sisters stayed enclosed inside the convent. She took the position of Mother Superior after Francis had stepped down to lead the friars.

St. Clare defending the convent with the Blessed Sacrament

Legend has it that a band of attackers came to Assisi, and as they where about to attack the convent, Clare went out with the monstrance with the Body of Christ in it, and the attackers fled. This is the reason she is shown with the monstrance.

Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi

Body of St. Clare

Clare died on August 11, 1253, and was canonized 2 years later on September 26 by Pope Alexander IV.

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