THE LEGEND OF SAINT CLARE
A miracle is a sign or wonder, a healing or some influence over nature that can only be explained by divine intervention. Miracles are the work of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Miracles are brought about by God’s grace, by the petitions of the Blessed Mother, and by the poor prayers of the saints. In this fifth episode of The Legend of Saint Clare, updated for contemporary readers, Thomas of Celano gives voice to Clare’s desire to live like Jesus in poverty and simplicity. And he gives witness to a miracle of prayer and Christ’s abiding power to feed his sheep.
The Legend of Saint Clare
Episode 5 – Miracle
Saint Clare lived by her own free will in strictest poverty. With perfect humility, she praised poverty above all else. Her love of poverty was so deep that she would own nothing for herself or her companions. Out of love for God, Clare gave her inheritance to the poor. She kept nothing. She gave up everything to follow Christ. She relied on Christ alone. Having left the world behind, she was wealthy only in virtue. Because Clare longed for the kingdom of heaven, she sold everything she owned and gave it to the poor in order to purchase one pearl of the greatest price. She said that the order she founded on poverty would endure all things until the end of time.
Clare looked upon earthly possessions as harmful and wrong. She often said to her sisters that they would be most acceptable to God through a life of voluntary poverty. She taught the sisters to conform themselves to Jesus, who was born naked and poor in a stable; and died naked and poor upon the Cross. Clare thought often about the Poor Christ. She talked with her companion about him, so that their hearts would be kept free from the earthly dross and desire. She wanted the sisters of her order to be known as the Poor Ladies.
Clare even petitioned the pope to grant her the privilege of holy poverty. Amazed by her faith and fervor, Pope Gregory IX answered that the Apostolic See had never before been asked to grant the privilege of such extreme poverty. The Holy Father loved Care, this chaste woman, with a pure and holy love. Having heard about Clare and the Poor Ladies, Pope Gregory concluded that the rule of poverty was too strict. He offered to relieve them of this burden, so that they could own possessions to satisfy the basic needs of life during hard and troubled times. The Pope even said that the ownership of property could be vested in the order.
Strong in faith, Clare declined. She refused any change in their way of life. Pope Gregory then said to her: “If you are concerned about your vow of poverty, I can absolve you from it.” Saint Clare answered back: “Holy Father, I do not fear this vow. I know well that you can free me and absolve me from it. But I beg you to absolve only my sins. I do not ever want to be released from following Jesus Christ, my Lord.”
Clare joyfully took scraps of broken bread brought by the mendicant sisters, but she was distressed to see whole freshly baked loaves because they made her feel rich and no longer among the poor. She always tried to imitate Jesus, her spouse, who was both poor and crucified. We think now on one miracle, worked by Clare out of love for holy poverty, but we will leave many others untold for now.
In the convent, Saint Clare lived with fifty nuns. One day at noon, when it was time to eat, only one loaf of bread was available for the sisters and for the friars who cared for them. Saint Clare asked: “When will we eat?” One of the sisters responded: “We will not eat, but we will fast because we have only one loaf of bread.” Clare then said: “Go, my daughter, and break the bread. Give half to the friars, then break the other half into fifty peaces. Lay those pieces upon the table so that each sister may have a share.” The nun answered back: “Lady Clare, that would be the Miracle of Christ, who with five loaves of bread fed five thousand people (cf. Matthew 15:32-39)! How can I divide half a loaf into fifty portions? Each sister will receive only a crumb!” Clare said: “Go, my daughter! Do it and have faith in God’s will!”
The sister left and did her best. Meanwhile, Clare turned to prayer. With sighs and tears, she begged God to provide for his poor daughters. As Clare prayed for a miracle, the bread increased in size in the hands of the sister who was breaking it into pieces. Even after all of the fifty sisters had eaten their fill, a large quantity was left over. It was indeed a miracle! Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
Legend of Saint Clare Podcasts
- Episode 1 – Beginnings
- Episode 2 – Vows
- Episode 3 – Sisters
- Episode 4 – Harvest of Souls
- Episode 5 – Miracle
- Episode 6 – Mortification
- Episode 7 – Prayer
- More Coming Soon!
About the Presenter
Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to The Legend of Saint Clare, Episode 5 – Miracle. The Assisi Project Podcast is produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project: A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit and our programs and ministries for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!
Art Credit: Saint Clare of Assisi | Copyright Nicknickko Dreamstime.com
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (see links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
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