cropped-saint-clare-podcast-1-1.jpegTHE LEGEND OF SAINT CLARE

Scholars may debate whether the words were actually written by Saint Clare of Assisi; but since the sixteenth century, the Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges has been a revered and essential part of the saint’s canon of writings. It sings with the clear voice of Clare and the Poor Ladies of San Damiano; and it affirms their deep devotion to the sufferings of the Crucified Christ.

In this letter, Saint Clare writes: “Dear Friend, look only to heaven. Take up the Cross and follow Christ wherever he leads you. Through Christ, we will enter into glory after many trials. Love God from the depths of your heart. Love Jesus, his Son, who was crucified for us and for the sake of sinners; and never let the thought of him leave your mind. Meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Cross and the agonies of the Blessed Mother, who stands faithfully at the Foot of the Cross.

In this episode of the Legend of Saint Clare, updated here for contemporary readers and listeners, Thomas of Celano (1185-1260) recounts how Clare follows her own advice, devotes herself to praying over the Sacred Wounds, and enjoys moments of true ecstasy and peace.

The Legend of Saint Clare
Episode 9 – Ecstasy

Through constant meditation on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Clare often became insensible to worldly concerns and seemed almost dead. More than once, while praying over the Holy Passion, Clare grieved so bitterly over the bodily pains suffered by the Poor Christ, because she loved him so much, that it seemed like a sword was piercing her heart. At other times, reflecting that because of the Lord’s Passion and Death, all of humanity was saved, Clare filled with so much joy and gladness that she could barely contain herself.

In giving instructions to the sisters, especially to the young novices, Clare told them through tears to remain ever mournful over the Lord’s Passion. When Clare prayed, her eyes seemed like wells of purest water. Each afternoon, she mortified her body between the hours of noon and three o’clock. She told the sisters that during this time, it was not possible to weep enough over the Passion of Christ.

One day, while Clare was in her cell mourning over the Passion, the devil came to her and gave her such a blow that blood poured from her mouth, nose, and ears. Her face became swollen but none of these afflictions could distract her from prayer. While praying the Divine Office, Clare always remembered the five wounds of Christ; and she recited the Little Office of the Passion just as Saint Francis taught her. Each night, she disciplined herself with a knotted cord.

During Holy Week, Clare would never cease to pray and weep. Once on Holy Thursday, she shut herself inside of her cell and prayed on these words: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” Clare’s soul was so full of grief and sadness that she fell into an ecstasy with every single thought turned toward the Passion of Christ. She lay still that holy night, oblivious to the world around her.

Now among the sisters was a young novice in whom Saint Clare trusted completely. She said to this sister: “When you see that I am a long time apart and do not join with the other sisters, come to me, but do not speak unless I seem to be at the point of death.” Saint Francis commanded this same sister to care for Clare’s needs and ensure that she ate at least some bread each and every day.

On Good Friday, therefore, the sister visited Clare several times. Seeing her engrossed in ecstasy, she did not speak to Clare or attempt to rouse her from prayer. On Holy Saturday, however, at the hour of morning prayer, the sister lit a candle, carried it into the cell, and approached Saint Clare. The light of the candle awakened Clare. Startled by the flame, Clare said: “Why do we need this light? It is not yet evening or night!” The sister replied: “My Dearest Mother Clare, Good Friday has passed. The night has passed, too. It is now early on Saturday morning. Please take some nourishment. Our Father Francis commanded that you eat some bread every day.” Clare replied: “Blessed be this long rest, my daughter. But speak of it to no one until I have passed from this life.”

From this legend, we learn about Saint Clare’s devotion to the Poor Christ; about the ecstasy of her deepest prayers; and about the obedience of a young disciple. So we turn again to Saint Clare’s Letter to Ermentrude of Bruges: “Pray and be vigilant always. The work you have begun so well, complete it. The ministry you have assumed, fulfill it with sincere humility and holy poverty. My friend, do not be afraid. God is faithful in all of his words and holy in all of his deeds. He will pour blessings upon you and your sisters. He will be your constant help. He will be your best consolation. He is our redeemer and our eternal reward. Let us pray for each other by carrying each other’s burden of charity. In this way, we will easily fulfill the law of Christ.

A Prayer for the Intercession of Saints Francis & Clare

May the powerful intercession
of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi
bring us closer to Christ Crucified,
closer to the Church,
and closer to each other.

May their prayers comfort us,
empower us, and protect us
as we strive to live the Gospel,
share God’s love, and rebuild the Church.

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 Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!


Legend of Saint Clare Podcasts

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 9 – Ecstasy. 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 Garvey at Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!

Art Credit: Saint Clare of Assisi | Copyright Nicknickko


About Us

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 (see link 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 May the Lord give you peace!

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