God’s grace is often mysterious to us, but I never find it more confounding than when I study historical periods that seem to burst with saints. Today is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, a saint who lived in a time and place of many saints.
Of course, St. Clare’s most famous contemporary might be St. Francis of Assisi, her friend and the co-founder of her order. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the life of St. Francis, but that sometimes means we forget the many incredible people surrounding him. But we should remember them and also see the time of St. Francis was an era that had a great need for many saints.
To honor St. Clare of Assisi on her feast day, let’s look at a few aspects of her life and ministry. These facts will help you see why so many people turn to St. Clare. More than that, St. Clare is an inspiration to seek God’s will, even if the world collapses around you.
1. A Child of Privilege
St. Clare came from a noble family. Although her father’s position was rather minor, his wealth was incredible for the time. In fact, St. Clare grew up in a castle on the slopes near Assisi. While her wealth certainly gave her comfort, she would embrace poverty and the call to religious life.
2. A Family of Saints
St. Clare was inspired by St. Francis to live within the walls of a monastery. Her father was opposed to such a simple life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, Clare could not be dissuaded. Her heart had found love, and she was going to embrace it.
However, St. Clare wouldn’t be the only saint in her family. Despite her father’s attempts to force her out of religious life, the rest of her family found her faith inspiring. Eventually, two of Clare’s sisters and her own mother would join her in embracing a life serving Christ. In time, her sister Agnes would be canonized as a saint, while her mother was later declared blessed. If that’s not enough, her cousin, Bl. Rufino, was among the first companions of St. Francis.
3. Eucharistic Miracle
The Church was in chaos in the thirteenth century. In particular, Italy was in a state of war throughout the life of Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor who fought wars against the Pope. This is a complex time and hard to explain the intricacies of its politics. So, we will have to sum it up to say that it was a messy time filled with war, doubt, and political instability.
Assisi was rarely spared this time of war, and the city often suffered sieges and attacks. In 1224, Frederick’s troops were moving to attack Assisi and loot the monasteries. St. Clare was not a warrior, but she was courageous. The noble saint went out to the gate of her monastery with the Blessed Sacrament, praying for protection. One account reports that a voice answered Clare’s prayers with a voice, saying “I will keep them always in My care.”
4. The Patron St. of Television
While St. Clare died in 1253, Pope Pius XII declared her the patron saint of television in 1957. The story behind this is relevant to our time.
As you can see, St. Clare had a great love for the Eucharist. As her health declined in her older age, however, she was unable to attend Mass or adoration as much as she’d like. On one Christmas Eve, Clare was so ill that she couldn’t attend the liturgies and celebrations of that holy day. The bedridden saint was unhappy at her inability to visit the Lord in the Eucharist but there was little she could do.
The Holy Spirit and the angels took pity on St. Claire and brought the images of the Mass to her room. The images and the sounds of her community’s Mass were projected into her room and St. Claire was able to experience the Mass, despite being unable to attend. This miracle inspired the future Pope to declare her the patron saint of TV, but I think she is also a candidate for those of us who (unfortunately) had to endure live-streamed Masses.
St. Clare of Assisi, Pray for Us!
As you can see, St. Clare is an inspiring and timeless saint. Her time is not too dissimilar from our own and the answer to such times remains the same: saints who bring us back to the Eucharistic Jesus. In St. Clare, we have a champion who shows us how to live a simple and courageous faith.
I encourage you to ask St. Clare to help you to rely on the Eucharist in our troubling times. I especially recommend the following prayer:
O Glorious St. Clare! God has given you the power of working miracles continually, and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress. We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary His Blessed Mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully, (mention your petition) if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls. Amen.