Wednesday, August 17, 2016
August 17 is the feast of St. Clare of Montefalco (1268-1308), an Augustinian nun noted for her devotion to the Passion of Christ. For that reason, she is sometimes called St. Clare of the Cross.
In her community of sisters, she was a model of religious life according to the ideals of Augustine. As superior of her convent, she constantly urged her sisters to practice self-denial and to seek holiness. She was given the gift of knowledge, which she used to defend the Faith.
Clare was born in Montefalco, Italy, around 1268. While still young, she went to live with her sister Joan, who had established a community of cloistered nuns. Together they would spend long hours in prayer.
As a young woman she became a member of that community, professing religious vows under the Rule of Saint Augustine. Soon after, she experienced a great trial. Her heart was filled daily with spiritual turmoil. She lost any sense of pleasure in prayer. Temptations assaulted her. She wondered if God had abandoned her. All this continued for 11 years.
After Joan, who was Abbess of the community, died, Clare was chosen to succeed her. At first she refused the office. But the nuns kept insisting that only Clare was called to serve as Abbess and she reluctantly accepted. Clare was a wise Abbess who governed with love and holiness. She continued to serve as Abbess until the time of her death August 17, 1308.
Her wisdom and holiness soon became known to people outside the monastery. Troubled persons, including Bishops, Priests, Friars, theologians, judges, educated and illiterate alike, came seeking Clare's counsel. Her advice was scriptural and logical, and almost always right on target.
Because of her great love for the Cross of Jesus, she used to say that she bore that Cross in her heart. After her death, a post-mortem examination revealed that her heart did indeed contain a representation of the Cross and other symbols of Christ's suffering and death.
Her remains are at the Augustinian Convent in Montefalco.