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Friday, August 10, 2012

Discovering our Saints - St Clare of Assisi

If this were a television series, the scene might look like this:

A towering crowded cathedral, a grand organ filling the air with heavenly sounds, it's Palm Sunday, the Bishop is presiding, Solemn High Mass!
The featured family in their Easter finery, having just arrived from their palace is occupying the front pew. The mother, first daughter of a noble family, always devout and pius, the father, a wealthy Count, an ancient Roman family, head bowed in thanksgiving for his aristocratic family, his beautiful daughter sitting alongside in her designer outfit...

The Bishop is at the altar, the congregation gathers, receiving their palms, but, the girl is unable to approach, she is transfixed, bathed in blinding bright light, all eyes upon her.

The Bishop leaves his sanctuary and places the branch of palm in the hand of the girl.

The cameras fades to black, the girl is never seen again...

The story does continue, but not as a television series, as a true story.
The country is Italy, the town is Assisi, the family is that of Flavorino Scifi and the young girl, is St Clare of Assisi.

She is now hidden away in a monastery outside of town, in a rough, thick veil and a plain brown tunic, her head has been shaven and she has tossed away her Easter finery, and the hopes and dreams of her family.
It is time for her to follow her own dreams, those which allow her to walk in the steps of Jesus Christ, as did her spiritual mentor and First Saint of Assisi, St Francis.

Clare had met him when he came to preach at a Lenten service. She realized her calling was not the high life of upscale Rome, but the right to abandon all of her worldly goods, to be distributed to the poor in the name of Him, who was the Way, the Truth and the Light!

St Francis had immediately recognized her as a 'chosen soul' and agreed to help her begin her life with Christ. He placed her in a humble chapel in Sam Damiano, her dedication attracted others, and thus, began the the Poor Ladies of St Clare, a monastic life for women, honoring the life and word of their Lord by living in poverty, manual labor and prayer.

St Clare spent her life dedicated to the Order, from abyss to superior, forty long years. She was instrumental in writing the Rite of the Clares, a rule of governing cloistered life.

Although St Clare spent many years in poor health she was said to be able to see and hear the Mass on the walls of her austere room. This encouraged Pope Pius XII to award her the title of Patron Saint of Television in 1958.

St Clare died in 1253 at age 59 on August 11th and was canonized in Rome by Pope Alexander IV on September 26, 1255.We celebrate her Feast Day on August 1  

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