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St. Clare of Assisi

Though the actual date of St. Clare's death is recorded as August 11, the Church celebrates her feast day August 12. She was born in Assisi July 16, 1194 into a wealthy family and, from a very young age, she demonstrated a lofty holiness that was an inspiration to all around her. Clare practiced a heroic devotion to prayer and mortification that evolved, as she grew older, into a strong aversion to things of this world.

Porzioncula, is now located within the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
Porzioncula, is now located within the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
Photo: /assisi/detalle_foto.asp?filename=32134_assisi_porziuncula
Altarpiece of St. Clare  illustrating most important events in her life Photo:
Altarpiece of St. Clare illustrating most important events in her life Photo:
Altarpiece of St. Clare illustrating most important events in her life Photo:

At the age of 18, after attending a sermon by St. Francis in the church of San Giorgio, she implored him to counsel her, so that she may live as he did, in the light of the holy Gospel. Recognizing that Clare was a special soul, chosen by God to do his bidding, Francis agreed to be her spiritual director.

A few weeks later, on Palm Sunday, as everyone approached the Communion rail for palms, Clare remained motionless, as if caught up in ecstasy. That evening, March 20, 2012, she slipped silently away from her father's home to the chapel of the Porziuncula, where St. Francis awaited. There, she replaced her elegant dress with a rough tunic and veil, allowed St. Francis to cut off her hair, and from then on was consecrated to the service of God.

St. Francis temporarily sheltered Clare at the Benedictine Monastero di San Paolo delle Abbadesse, with the Benedictine nuns of San Paolo. Her father, enraged by her actions, did everything that he could to literally drag Clare back to his home. Eventually, with a little help from God, Count Favorino surrendered to God's will and accepted Clare and her sister's (Agnes) entrance into the religious life.

Shortly after her entrance into the monastery at San Paolo, Francis arranged for her transfer to Sant' Angelo in Panzo, where he felt that she would find greater solitude. It was here that her sister, Agnes joined her. Eventually, Clare and her Order of the Poor Clares relocated and settled in a small chapel in San Damiano.

It wasn't until 1219 that Cardinal Ugolino, later to become Pope Gregory IX, created a written rule for the Poor Clares, based on the Rule of St. Benedict. To Francis and Clare's disdain, this rule, however, diminished the importance of absolute poverty, a major characteristic of the Clares and Franciscans.

A disagreement ensued between Clare and Ugolino. Whereas Francis forbade his friars to own any worldly goods, even in common, Ugolino felt such a rule to be unrealistic for cloistered religious. Clare stood her ground and maintained the strict rules of poverty for the Order. Inspired by her determination to reject the things of this world, the now pope acquiesced and granted his papal bull, Privilegium Paupertatis (1) in 1228, permitting her "resolution of the loftiest poverty."

The battle was over, but the war had not yet been won. When Pope Innocent IV succeeded Gregory IX, he once again addressed the Clares' rule of poverty. Clare stood firm, again. Two days before her death in 1253, the pope confirmed Solet Anneure, (2) and the issue was finally laid to rest.

It is customary, in many paintings of Clare, that she be shown holding a ciborium. This originated from a frightening situation that she faced in 1234, when the army of Frederick II attacked Assisi. As the soldiers prepared to scale the walls of San Damiano, Clare met them at the window, ciborium in hand. Those atop the ladder fell backward as if in a daze. The remaining soldiers, frightened at what had just occurred, took flight.

That was not the only time that Clare relied upon the protection of the Blessed Sacrament. General Vitale di Aversa returned to Assisi with an even greater army. As they approached the monastery, Clare and her nuns knelt in prayer, beseeching God to spare Assisi. Suddenly, a horrendous storm rose up. The soldiers' tents and supplies were strewn in all directions, causing so much fear that they once again fled in a panic.

When the time drew near for Clare to leave this world, she gathered her religious around her to remind them of the many gifts with which God had blessed them and encouraged them to persevere in their adherence to a life of poverty. Pope Innocent IV came to her bedside, as did her sister, and three devout followers of St. Francis.

She was buried in the very same chapel of San Giorgio where it had all begun so many years before. September 26, 1255, Clare was canonized by Alexander IV. Soon after, Santa Chiara was erected and in 1260, her body was moved there from San Giorgio and placed underneath the high altar.

Her tomb was discovered in 1850, where they found her skeleton perfectly preserved. In 1872, Archbishop Pecci (Pope Leo XII) returned her remains to Santa Chiara, where they remain today.

In an effort to forever expunge the memory of the holy virgin-martyr, St. Philomena, from the minds and hearts of Novus Ordo Catholics, St. Clare's feast day was moved from August 12 to August 11 (St. Philomena's feast day). The True (traditional) Church still observes St. Clare's feast day on August 12.

O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise your Holy Name and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in your most Holy Love. Amen.

First Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, first disciple of the Poor Man of Assisi, who hast abandoned all riches and honours for a life of sacrifice and of highest poverty, obtain from God for us the grace we ask (State your intention here...), that of always submitting to the Divine Will and of living confidently in the providence of our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Second Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare who, notwithstanding living separated from the world hast not forgotten the poor and the afflicted, but hast become a mother to them, sacrificing for them your riches and working for them innumerable miracles; obtain from God for us the grace we implore (State your intention here...), Christian charity towards our brethren in all their spiritual and temporal needs.

Third Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, light of your country, who hast delivered Italy from barbarous invaders; obtain from God for us the grace we implore (State your intention here...), that of overcoming all attacks of the world against faith and morals thus preserving in our families true Christian peace
with a holy fear of God and a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Amen.

Fourth Day

Blessed Saint Clare, whose very name means light, illumine the darkness of our minds and hearts so that we might see what God wishes us to do and perform it with a willing and joyful heart. Before your birth, a Heavenly voice foretold that you would be a light illuminating the world. Be a light to us in the sorrows and anxieties of this earthly life, and lead us into the eternal light of our home in Heaven. Amen.

Fifth Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, whose virginal heart was great enough to love the whole world, take our petitions into your pure hands and present them to God. Pray for us that we may one day enter joyously before the throne of God. Let the light of your perfect purity consume the shadows of sin and corruption that darkens the world. Intercede by your innocence for our youth. Safeguard the peace of our homes and the unity of our family. Plead with your chaste love for all in peril. Amen.

Sixth Day

Generous Saint Clare, who left wealth and pleasure and all earthly goods to become the first spiritual daughter of Saint Francis and to serve God in the cloister, help us to commit our lives to God without limit or measure so that He may live in us and shine forth from us to all whose lives touch ours. You who loved souls so much as to make your life a continual sacrifice for them, obtain for us the graces we now implore and win for us the strength to praise God in suffering as well as in joy. Amen.

Seventh Day

Faithful Saint Clare, loyal daughter of the Church, friend and confidante of popes, intercede for the holy Church and look graciously from Heaven on our holy Father Pope. Enlighten us to remove from our souls all that hinders the progress of the Church on earth. Grant that we may share your great love for the church of God and spread His kingdom on earth by a holy life. You, who worked miracles in the presence of the pope on earth, obtain for us the graces we need, now that you stand in the presence of the most high God in Heaven. Amen.

Eighth Day

Valiant Saint Clare, who fearlessly stood alone against the barbarous Saracens, trusting in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection, enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus Christ; help us to live Eucharistic lives. You who saved your city of Assisi from plunder and ruin, protect our city and archdiocese, plead for our beloved country and the suffering world. A voice from the Sacred Host rewarded your trust with a promise: "I will always take care of you." Glorious Saint Clare, from your high place in Heaven, take care of us now in our earthly needs and guide us by your light to Heaven. Amen.

Ninth Day

Gracious Saint Clare, who fulfilled your womanhood by a life of love in prayer and penance,
help us to fulfill our destiny that we may one day greet you in Heaven. You who were consoled at your death by a vision of Christ band His Mother, obtain for us the grace that we may die under the special protection of God and enter into the life and bliss you now enjoy. Have pity on us who struggle, on us who mourn, and win for us the favours of God so that after this life we may come home to Him who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Closing Prayer

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray:

We Pray You, Lord, Grant us Your servants who celebrate the festival of Blessed Clare your Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Your only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

(Monasterio De Santa Clara, Quezon City, Philippines)