t. Clare, foundress of the Order which bears her name, was born of rich and pious parents, at Assisi, in the district of Umbria, in Italy. She received the name of Clare, which means clear or bright, for the following reason. While her mother Hortulana, was kneeling before a crucifix, praying that God might aid her in her hour of delivery, she heard the words: "Do not fear. You will give birth to a light which shall illumine the whole world." From her earliest childhood, prayer was Clare's only delight. She gave to the poor all the presents which she received from her parents. She despised all costly garments, all worldly pleasures. Beneath the fine clothes she was obliged to wear, she wore a rough hair-girdle. She partook of so little food, that it seemed as if she wished to observe a continual fast. D
uring this same period lived St. Francis, surnamed "the Seraphic," on account of his great virtues. Clare frequently went to him and confided to him her desire to renounce the world and to consecrate her virginity to God, and to lead a perfect life in the most abject poverty. St. Francis who saw, that besides other gifts and graces, she was filled with the most ardent love of God, possessing great innocence of heart and despising the world, strengthened her in her holy desire, while at the same time he tested her constancy. Being sufficiently convinced that her desires were inspired by Heaven, he advised Clare to leave her home, which she did on Palm Sunday, going to the church of the Portiuncula, where she had her hair cut off, as a sign that she would enter a religious life. She divested herself of all feminine ornaments, and attired in a penitential garb, tied around her with a cord, she was placed by St. Francis in a vacant Benedictine convent. She was at that time just eighteen years of age.
hen her parents heard of what she had done, they hastened to the Convent, to take Clare home, declaring that this choice of a state of life was only a childish whim, or that she had been persuaded to it by others. Clare, however, after opposing their arguments, fled into the church, and clinging to the altar with one hand, with the other she bared her head shorn of its hair, exclaiming: "Know all, that I desire no other bridegroom than Jesus Christ. Understanding well what I was doing, I chose Him and I will never leave Him." Astonished at this answer, all returned home, admiring her virtue and piety. Clare thanked God for this victory and was, on account of it, all the more strengthened in her resolution. She had a sister younger than herself, named Agnes. A few days later she, too, fled from her parents' roof and going to Clare, wished to be invested in the same habit and to serve God in the same manner. St. Clare received her joyfully, but as all her relatives were provoked beyond measure that she, too, had entered a Convent, twelve of them went and forcibly tore her from her sister's arms. Clare took refuge in prayer, and as if inspired by the Almighty, ran after her sister, loudly calling her by name. God assisted her by a miracle. Agnes suddenly became immovable, as if rooted to the ground, and no one possessed strength enough to drag her from where she stood. Recognizing in this the powerful hand of God, they opposed her no longer, but allowed her to return to the Convent. Meanwhile, St. Francis had rebuilt the old church of St. Damian and had bought the neighboring house. Into this house he placed his first two religious daughters, Clare and Agnes, who were speedily joined by others, desirous of conforming themselves to the rule of life which St. Francis had given to Clare. This was the beginning of the Order of Poor Clares, which has since given to the world so many shining examples of virtue and holiness, to the salvation of many thousands of souls. S
t. Clare was appointed abbess by St. Francis, and filled the office for forty-two years with wonderful wisdom and holiness. Her mother also, together with her youngest daughter, took the habit and submitted to the government of St. Clare. The holy abbess enjoined on her order the most severe poverty, and when the Pope himself offered her some property as an endowment, she humbly but earnestly refused to accept it. She was, to all in her charge, a bright example of poverty. In austerity towards herself she was more to be admired than imitated. The floor or a bundle of straw was her bed ; a piece of wood, her pillow. Twice during the year she kept a forty days' fast on bread and water. Besides this, three days of the week, she tasted no food, and so little on the others, that it is marvellous that she could sustain life with it. The greater part of the night she spent in prayer, and her desire for mortification was so great, that St. Francis compelled her to moderate her austerities. She nursed the sick with the greatest pleasure, as in this work of charity, she found almost constant opportunity to mortify and overcome herself. Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle, and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions; and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.
he Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St. Clare, who was sick at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: "O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood." A voice was distinctly heard, saying: "I will protect you always." The result proved that this was the voice of heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind, and flung themselves down. Thus were St. Clare and her religious protected and the whole city preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament. W
e must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant, in order to relate her happy end. She had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which she had suffered from various painful maladies, though she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable, and she was never heard to complain of the severity or the duration of her sickness. The contemplation of the Passion of Christ made her own pains easy and even pleasing to her. "How short," said she one day, "seems the night to me, which I pass in the contemplation of the Lord's suffering!" At another time, she exclaimed: "How can man complain when he beholds Christ hanging upon the cross and covered with blood!" Having suffered so long and with such noble resignation, she saw at last, that her end was near. She received the Blessed Sacrament, and then exhorted all her daughters not to relax in their zeal to live in poverty and holiness. W
hen her confessor conversed with her on the merits of patience, she said: "As long as I have had the grace to serve God in the religious state, no care, no penance, no sickness has seemed hard to me. Oh, how comforting it is to suffer for the love of Christ!" The hour of her death drew near, and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervor of her love for God than from the effects of her sickness. Her holy death took place in 1253. The great number of miracles wrought after her death through her intercession, and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV., only two years later, to place her in the number of Saints.
ow can man complain when he beholds Christ hanging on the cross and covered with blood," asked St. Clare; and she also said that those nights in which she contemplated the passion of Our Lord, seemed short. During her long and painful maladies, she meditated on all the sufferings which Our Lord endured to save us, and by this means, learned such resignation that she not only had no thought of murmuring against Divine Providence, but also bore her pains with great interior consolation. See your crucified Saviour and think: "What is my suffering compared to that which my Redeemer endured for love of me? My Jesus has suffered with patience, with joy, and even with the desire to suffer still more. Why then should I be impatient and faint-hearted." With such thoughts you should animate yourself, especially during the night, as it is generally then that pains increase. Remember the night, the bitter night, which your Saviour passed in the house of Caiaphas, maltreated in every possible manner, and pray for grace, to bear the cross laid upon you, with patience and fortitude. Only try it once and you will find great relief. St. Gregory said rightly: "Remembering the sufferings of Christ, we can bear everything patiently, how heavy soever it may be.
Litany of the Glorious Mother Saint ClareLamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Pray for us. *
Holy Mother Clare, *
Holy Mother Clare, renowned in deed and in name, *
Holy Mother Clare, brighter than the light, *
Holy Mother Clare, great in merits, *
Holy Mother Clare, free from the stain of sin, *
Holy Mother Clare, bright light illumining the world, *
Holy Mother Clare, new luminary, *
Holy Mother Clare, star of the heavens, *
Holy Mother Clare, renowned Virgin, *
Holy Mother Clare, saintly Virgin, *
Holy Mother Clare, prudent Virgin, *
Holy Mother Clare, shining splendor of Heaven, *
Holy Mother Clare, friend of the Cross, *
Holy Mother Clare, mourning dove, *
Holy Mother Clare, spouse of God, *
Holy Mother Clare, disciple of Christ, *
Holy Mother Clare, city of the Saviour, *
Holy Mother Clare, vessel of purity, *
Holy Mother Clare, pattern of obedience, *
Holy Mother Clare, model of patience, *
Holy Mother Clare, marvel of abstinence, *
Holy Mother Clare, prodigy of sanctity, *
Holy Mother Clare, mother of poverty, *
Holy Mother Clare, flower of virginity, *
Holy Mother Clare, palm of fecundity, *
Holy Mother Clare, fountain of charity, *
Holy Mother Clare, endowed with every virtue, *
Holy Mother Clare, guardian of consecrated virgins, *
Holy Mother Clare, plant of the Minors, *
Holy Mother Clare, sweetest mistress, *
Holy Mother Clare, despising vanities, *
Holy Mother Clare, triumphing over the demons, *
Holy Mother Clare, most devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, *
Holy Mother Clare, emulating our Holy Father Saint Francis, *
Holy Mother Clare, craving the food of the word of God, *
Spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously, hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord!
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Pray for us, O Blessed Mother Clare!
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
e beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy servants who are renewing the votive commemoration of Thy holy Virgin, our Mother Clare, may by her intercession become partakers of the heavenly joys and co-heirs of Thine only-begotten Son. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen. O
God, Who wast pleased that our holy Mother Saint Clare by the splendor of her virtues should become a guiding light to innumerable virgins: grant through her intercession and merits that those virgins may always walk in this light here on earth, and may be found worthy to enjoy the perpetual serenity of Thy face in heaven. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Prayers of St. Clare of Assisi to
the Five Wounds of Our SaviourI. To the Wound in the Right Hand
Praise be to Thee, O Jesus Christ, for the most sacred wound in Thy right hand. By this adorable wound, and by Thy most sacred passion, pardon me all the sins I have committed against Thee in thought, word, and deed, and all negligence in Thy service, and all sensuality for which I have been to blame whether asleep or awake. Grant that I may be able to recall with devotion Thymost pitiful death and sacred wounds; grant me the grace to mortify my body, and so to offer a pledge of my gratitude to Thee, Who havest and reignest world without end. Amen. Pater Noster, Ave Maria.II. To the Wound in the Left Hand
Praise and glory be to Thee, O sweetest Jesus.Christ, for the most sacred wound in Thy left hand. By this adorable wound, have mercy on me, and deign to root out of my heart everything displeasing to Thee. Give me the victory over Thy perverse enemies, so that with Thy grace I may be able to overcome them; and by the merits of Thy most pitiful death save me from all the dangers of my present and future life; and then grant that I may share Thy glory in heaven, Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen. Pater Noster and Ave Maria.III. To the Wound in the Right Foot
Praise and glory be to Thee, O sweet Jesus Christ, for the most sacred wound in Thy right foot; and by that adorable wound grant me grace to do penance for my sins. And by Thy most pitiful death I devoutly beg of Thee to keep me, Thy poor servant, united, night and day, to Thy holy will, and to remove afar off every misfortune of body and soul. And when the day of wrath shall come, receive me into Thy mercy, and lead me to eternal happiness. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. Pater Noster and Ave Maria.IV. To the Wound in the Left Foot
Praise and glory be to Thee, most merciful Jesus Christ, for the most sacred wound in Thy left foot; and by this adorable wound grant me the grace of a full pardon, that with Thine aid I may deserve to escape the sentence of eternal reprobation. I pray Thee, moreover, by Thy most holy death, O my loving Redeemer, that I may be able before my death to receive the sacrament of Thy body and blood, after confession of my sins, and with perfect repentance and purity of body and mind. Grant that I may merit also to receive the holy anointing, for my eternal salvation, O Lord, Who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen. Pater Noster and Ave Maria.V. To the Wound in the Sacred Side
Praise and glory be to Thee, most loving Jesus Christ, for the most sacred wound in Thy side, and by that adorable wound, and by Thy infinite mercy, which Thou didst make known in the opening of Thy breast to the soldier Longinus, and so to us all, I pray Thee, O most gentle Jesus, that having redeemed me by baptism from original sin, so now by Thy precious blood, which is offered and received throughout the world, deliver me from all evils, past, present, and to come. And by Thy most bitter death give me a lively faith, a firm hope, and a perfect charity, so that I may love Thee with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my strength; make me firm and steadfast in good works, and grant me perseverance in Thy service, so that I may be able to please Thee always. Amen. Pater Noster and Ave Maria.V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy death and blood Thou hast redeemed the world.
Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, Who by the five wounds of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, hast redeemed the human race, grant to Thy suppliants that we who daily venerate those wounds, may, by the shedding of His precious blood, be freed from sudden and everlasting death. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.Indulgence of 300 days--Leo XIII, 1885
Novena to St. Clara
By that spirit of penance which made you take delight in the most rigorous fasts, in the most rigid poverty, and in the most severe mortifications in divesting yourself of all your wealth, and enduring the greatest sufferings that you might live for Jesus Christ alone: obtain for us, O admirable St. Clara, the grace to prefer at all times abjection to glory, poverty to riches, and mortifications to pleasures, that we may become not in name only, but in deed, true disciples of Jesus Christ.Glory be, etc.
By that ardent charity and lively faith which were your characteristics, and by the wonderful miracles which you performed for the sake of charity: obtain for us all, O admirable St. Clara, that we may at all times put our trust in God alone, and thus be made worthy to receive from His bountiful Providence all that we may need for soul and body.Glory be, etc.
By that especial devotion which you had to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and which caused you to be ravished into ecstasies in His presence, by the fervent prayer which your society made before the sacramental Host, when you were forced to make a precipitate flight before the barbarous Saracens; obtain for us, O admirable St. Clara, the grace to take our delight in frequenting the sacraments, assisting at the holy mysteries, and in paying the most fervent devotion to the most blessed Eucharist: that we may receive consolation during the present life, and attain to the possession of eternal beatitude in heaven.Glory be, etc.
Jesu Corona Virginum
Jesu, the Virgins' crown, do thou Accept us as in prayer we bow; Born of that Virgin, whom alone The Mother and the Maid we own. http://catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com/
Amongst the lilies thou dost feed, By Virgin choirs accompanied; With glory decked, the spotless brides Whose bridal gifts thy love provides.
They, wheresoe'er thy footsteps bend, With hymns and praises still attend: In blessed troops they follow thee, With dance, and song, and melody.
We pray Thee therefore to bestow Upon our senses here below Thy grace, that so we may endure From taint of all corruption pure.
To God the Father, God the Son, And God the Spirit, Three in One, Laud, honor, might, and glory be From age to age eternally. Amen