Who Was Saint Clare?

Who Was Saint Clare?

Written by Grace Babineau, a Catholic blogger at www.gracefuljournal.com

Perched atop a peaceful slope in the town of Assisi, the Basilica of St. Clare stands out boldly in white and pink striped stone. Beneath the church in the crypt lies her body, protected by an iron grate and venerated daily by faithful visitors. The ornate beauty of the church honors the rich splendor of St. Clare’s spiritual gifts while contrasting her life of material poverty.

What Was St. Clare’s Upbringing?

Born to a wealthy family of elite nobility in the year 1194, Clare (Chiara in Italian) radiated the meaning of her name, that is “light,” with her striking physical beauty. Due to their social position, her family expected their daughter to marry well. To their shock, Clare chose instead to be the bride of Christ. At the age of 18, after hearing a Lenten sermon preached by St. Francis, she shared with him her desire to live the call of the Gospel. To avoid the opposition of her parents, Clare quietly left home to dedicate her life to Christ under Francis’ guidance. Though her father attempted to retrieve her, he could not convince her to return, so strong was her resolve to live wholly for God.

How Did St. Clare Devote Her Life to Christ?

Under the direction of St. Francis, Clare began an order of women dedicated to living out the same spirit as St. Francis’s brothers. They devoted themselves to poverty, wearing rough clothing, eating no meat, and living in silence and prayer. Many people, including popes and prelates of the Church, believed that their rule of life was too severe, but St. Clare remained confident in their intense poverty, declaring, "They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?"

Clare’s deep reliance on God’s providence led her to defend Assisi from an attack in 1244 when the soldiers of Emperor Frederick II prepared to overtake the Italian city. Though in poor health, Clare bravely went out to meet the attackers with the Blessed Sacrament, begging God to protect her community. Suddenly, the soldiers were struck with a paralyzing fear, immediately retreating and leaving Assisi untouched. For this reason, St. Clare is depicted in sacred art with a monstrance or pyx in hand, commemorating the impressive victory she won through Christ.

What is St. Clare the Patron Saint of?

Due to her life of extreme fasting and poverty, St. Clare suffered from poor health and sometimes was unable to attend mass. When she could not attend in person, she was able to miraculously see and hear the liturgy on the wall in her room. She was so close to Christ that no ailment could keep her from His divine presence!

As a result of this unique blessing, St. Clare is the patron saint of television, along with eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, embroiderers, gilders, good weather, needleworkers, telephones, and telegraphs. Certainly, her vast patronage is an indication of her generous heart and numerous gifts!

Why Turn to St. Clare?

Not far from the tomb of St. Clare in Assisi, many of her articles of clothing are displayed, each showing a unique manifestation of her life of holy poverty. While shocking to see her tattered garments, it arouses reflection on a spirit of detachment from the world—a spirit which we are called to live out daily. What materials are we inordinately attached to? And how might we redirect our attachment to Christ? The following prayer is is a helpful place to start:

O Jesus, Who chose a life of poverty and obscurity, grant me the grace to keep my heart detached from the transitory things of this world. Let it be that henceforth, You are my only treasure, for You are infinitely more precious than all others possessions. My heart is too solicitous for the vain and fleeting things of earth. Make me always mindful of Your warning words: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?”Grant me the grace to keep Your holy example always before my eyes, that I may despise the nothingness of this world and make You the object of all my desires and affections. Amen.

(source: Aleteia)

From a young age, St. Clare recognized that love for Christ was the true treasure of this life, leaving aside everything of earthly value to follow His light. Let us ask St. Clare for the same ability to live always in the light of Christ’s love, to boldly ask for His protection in times of fear, and to never let any earthly treasure stand in the way of our heavenly destination.

St. Clare is available as a charm selection for our Custom Saint Necklace, Custom Saint Bracelet, and Floral Cross & Saint Necklace

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