Thursday, August 12, 2010

Saint Clare, a day late, but a saint for everyday

While I am on the subject of women who are veiled for religious reasons, I am very distraught that I let yesterday's observance of the Feast of Santa Clara, one Chiara Offreduccio, pass without marking it publicly, but busy-ness prevented me from doing so. I would make the point that, as even the French law recognizes, there is a difference between taking the veil and having it thrust upon you. There is also a difference between taking the veil and living apart from the world and walking down le Boulevard des Capucines fully veiled. For all who asked me for my prayers yesterday, you were entrusted to the very reliable Saint Clare of Assisi, whom I love dearly. The picture below shows her intercession, when a mother prays to St. Clare to deliver her child from wolves. St. Clare, a companion of St. Francis, lived from 1193-1253.

Sixteen days after leaving her parents' house at age 18, joined by one Agnes, Clare began living a life centered on the evangelical counsels, a life of poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world. Her group was given a rule by St. Francis. At 21 she became abbess of her community and remained so until her death. She said of Christ her Lord: "Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love."

Since culture seems to be a pervasive theme these days for me, I encourage you to have a wonderful Francisan cinematic experience by watching closely together Rossellini's The Flowers of St. Francis, followed by Cavani's very existential take on the life of St. Francis, Francesco, featuring Mickey Rourke as Francis and Helena Bonham Carter as Clare. Cinematically, it works, as the below extended clip from the film shows:

Of course, St. Clare is the patron saint of television. I don't want to diminish her being designated as such by Pope Pius XII in 1958. However, we must be careful not to reduce her to this because by so doing we diminish her witness. This prompts me to think about when Dorothy Day said she didn't want to be a saint because she did not want to be dismissed that easily.

Sancta Clara, ora pro nobis.

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