Feast Day: August 11
Keywords: clarity, blindness, embroiderers, eye diseases, gilders, goldsmiths, laundry workers, telephones, telegraphs, television
Together with her mentor and friend, Francis of Assisi, St. Clare shook the foundations of Medieval society by revolutionizing religious expression. Her given name, Chiara means clarity and we call on St. Clare whenever we need to shine a light on a situation or to find a way to communicate more clearly. She is also invoked to protect the blind and to help those with eye trouble. Chiara Offreduccio, as the beautiful daughter of minor royalty was offered every worldly advantage available to one in her social class. When she heard St. Francis preach the Lenten service at her church in 1212, his simple message of living with complete trust in God inspired her to abandon going through with her arranged marriage in order to join the Franciscan movement. The first followers of Saint Francis were the wealthy sons of his town of Assisi. Their act of turning their backs on the material world to live at the mercy of the elements and on whatever alms they could beg was disturbing and controversial to both their families as well as to the church authorities. Attracted by the joyous way in which they comported themselves, as well as the enthusiasm they brought to religious worship, Clare was the first woman to join their order. Fervently believing in a life devoted to the precepts of the gospel, the Franciscans did not believe in personal property. When Clare escaped her family to join them on Palm Sunday, Francis himself cut off her long blond hair and handed her the simple woolen robe worn by his followers. He then left her in the local Benedictine convent as there were no facilities in his order for women. It was not long before her entire family attempted an intervention type rescue of the girl. Revealing her shorn hair to her horrified father made them realize that she would never return to their world. Her younger sister, as well as other wellborn young women from the town soon followed her. In 1215, Saint Francis installed Clare as the Abbess of the Order of Poor Ladies. True to the Rule of St. Francis, they accepted no dowries from their families as other religious orders did. When they were left inheritances, the money was distributed to the poor. Highly intelligent, and known for the efficacy of her prayers, popes, cardinals, royalty and St. Francis himself came to her for spiritual advice. Her own correspondence shows her to be a clever, happy person.
Devoted to the Eucharist and frequently immersed in prayer, the stories of miraculous occurrences around Clare abound. The most famous is that while she was ill, her convent which was outside of the walls of Assisi was attacked by the Saracen mercenaries of Frederick II . As the invaders stormed the walls with ladders, Clare calmly held up a monstrance containing the host. A child’s voice emanated from inside the monstrance, “I will always guard and defend you.” A feeling of dread overtook the invaders and they ran away from the town.
St. Clare was named the patron saint of television writers and workers due to a vision she had while too ill to attend Christmas Eve mass. She was able to view and hear the entire mass on the wall of her room. She spent much time embroidering linens for use in mass, so she is the patron of embroiderers. Because that trade is hard on the eyes and because of her name, she is the patron of those with eye problems and the blind.
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