Saint Spotlight Saint Clare

1194 - 1253
Feast Day 1 August

Patron saint of: Protection from eye disorders &

Saint Clare | original painting for the Poor Clares in Cincinnati, OH

The 41 years of Clare’s religious life are scenarios of sanctity: an indomitable resolve to lead the simple, literal gospel life as Francis taught her; courageous resistance to the ever-present pressure to dilute the ideal; a passion for poverty and humility; an ardent life of prayer; and a generous concern for her sisters.

Homegrown Holiness

Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop (1842-1909)

In October 2000 James Mawdsley was released from a Burmese prison after serving one year of a seventeen year sentence for campaigning against that country’s military regime. On his release, he said he had survived his ordeal by reading the 15th century religious work, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. This famous book teaches the values oi the spiritual life, especially inculcating humility of heart. It tells us that “to judge well and highly of others is great wisdom and high perfection … We are all frail, but you must not count anyone more frail than yourself.” In our 21 st century culture of image-building and self-assertion, these words sound strange and even foolish.

Yet it was such a “folly” that captured the heart of Clare of Assisi. A young girl of the well-to-do Offreduccio family, she was well-connected and had the prospect of a flourishing and successful life. Clare confounded her family by renouncing all desire to take her place in the proffered scheme of things. Instead, after hearing a Lenten sermon preached by Francis of Assisi, she gave her heart and her whole life to the imitation and love of Christ. Uke Francis she sought to live the simplest possible life in response to the gospel. She was given a house by Francis as a place to live with her growing community of sisters. This Order, living by the rule of Saint Francis, became known as the Poor Clares.

Clare spent all her life in Assisi, living in poverty, simplicity and contemplation. In such conditions the spiritual life grows strong, and many people, including Church leaders, came to visit Clare and to benefit from her wisdom. The life that was planned for Clare did not happen, and her parents, especially her father, were distraught at her foolishness. But Clare’s foolish_ness turned out to be wise. Looking deeply into the mystery of Christ, Clare saw the real value of humility, of suffering, and the joys of heavenly glory. Convinced that she had found the greatest treasure on earth, her life witness to us is of the wisdom and wealth to be found in the imitation of Christ.

Adapted from he Living Word Saints and Feasts