Sunday, August 11, 2013

St Clare of Assisi ~ BFF of St Francis

Today is the feast day of that most awesome saint, Clare of Assisi, also known as Claire or Clair, and BFF (Best Friend Forever) of St Francis of Assisi. St Clare was called to the religious life at the age of 18 by St Francis himself after she heard him preach.  When St Francis began a woman's religious order that related to his own Franciscan order, he chose Clare to lead it.  This group became known as The Poor Clares  and St Clare was their abbess from 1215 to 1253 ~ almost 40 years.

This lovely little medal shows a miraculous event in the life of St Clare.  In 1243 the invading Saracen army of Emperor Frederick came to sack the town of Assisi.  St Clare's convent church of San Damiano was outside the walls of the town and made an excellent first target for the troops who hoped to carry off the riches of the church.
As the invaders approached the walls of the convent, St Clare, who was bedridden with illness, asked to be carried out to where she could be seen by the army.  She took a ciborium holding the blessed sacrament with her and held it in front of her while she prayed for the safety of the nuns.  In response she heard a small voice reply, "I will always have them in My care." The Saracens immediately stopped their attempts to enter the convent and fled the scene, leaving the sisters and the church compound untouched.

On the front of the medal you can see St Clare standing at the walls of the convent with the invaders climbing a ladder right in front of her.  She's holding the ciborium aloft while the sister behind her kneel in prayer.  The wall and towers of the town of Assisi can be seen in the background.  The motto around the edge is in French and translates as "St Clare Pray for Us".

This medal is only about 1/2 inch across.  It's amazing to me how much detail has been fit into such a tiny space!

St Clare was also known for spinning fine thread to be used in weaving articles needed by the church, making her the patron saint of needle workers, and could see the mass in progress projected on the wall of her cell while she was sick in bed, making her the patron saint of television.  

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