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Friday, August 11, 2017

For the Feastday of Saint Clare

Clare (Chiara Offreduccio), the daughter of a patrician family, was born on July 16, 1194 and Francis, (Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone), born in 1181 the son of a rich merchant, left everything to follow Christ. Francis renounced his inheritance to live the Gospel in poverty.  Francis started begging at the church doors for the poor, nursing lepers and restoring the churches of his region. While the whole city thought Francis mad, Claire was the first to read deep into his heart and decide to follow him. It was the beginning of a great love story: an everlasting communion of souls that led them both to sanctity.  Both found major religious orders and together they inspired many to follow their radical call to live the Gospel, and their impact has reached across the centuries to change the world.

When, in 1234, the army of Frederick II was devastating the valley of Spoleto, the soldiers, preparatory to an assault upon Assisi, scaled the walls of San Damiano by night, spreading terror among the community. Clare, calmly rising from her sick bed, and taking the ciborium from the little chapel adjoining her cell, proceeded to face the invaders at an open window against which they had already placed a ladder. It is related that, as she raised the Blessed Sacrament on high, the soldiers who were about to enter the monastery fell backward as if dazzled, and the others who were ready to follow them took flight.  Clare died in her convent in Assisi on August 11, 1253.

Saint Clare is also the patroness of television. One Christmas Eve, Clare was so sick that she could not get out of bed even to go to Mass. While the other sisters were on their way to mass, she stayed in bed praying so she could take part in the mass with her prayer. Just then, the Lord granted her a miraculous vision, and she was able to see the Mass, even though she was far away from where it was happening, as if it were taking place right in her own bedroom.

In 1958, when Pope Pius XII was trying to find a saint to name as patron for the marvellous new invention called television, he recalled this incident in the life of Saint Clare.  Since television is Greek for vision from afar, Clare was chosen as its patroness.
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