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Saint Claire of Montefalco

st Clare

Saint Claire of Montefalco (Italian: Chiara da Montefalco) (c. 1268 – August 17, 1308), She was called Saint Claire of the Cross, was an Augustinian nun and abbess. She was born in 1268 of a well to do family in Montefalco, Umbria Italy. Claire was a lively, sincere and intelligent daughter of Damiano and Iacopa Vengente. Temptations assaulted her, conflicts raged inside her well – ordered emotional life. Claire was suddenly thrust into the first of her three great trials. She began to experience spiritual upheavals in her heart. She lost any sense of pleasure in prayer. She was subjected to doubt; she could not resolve whether or not God had abandoned her. This upheaval she endured for 11 years.

The Bishop of nearby Spoleto sent his representative to Montefalco in order to supervise the election of the new monastery abbess. The unanimous choice was Claire. This began Claire’s second great trial. Preferring to serve God and His people in a more humble way, she decided to accept the role and responsibility of Abbess. She humbly bowed to their will and became their abbess.

For 16 years, Claire served as mother, teacher and spiritual director of the nuns. She was a wise Abbess who governed with love and holiness. Claire also loved the poor, the ill as much as those who were persecuted. To these desperate folk and anyone in misery who knocked at the monastery portal, she gave whatever they needed. Her heart was so forgiving that she even helped those who has spoken evil of her and who has wished evil upon her. What Claire possessed was spiritual strength. This power goes by different names in each century, but always remains the ability to disregard the body and its primitive need.

Claire was a mystic, but she was realist enough to obtain funds to build a Church for her monastery. Like the abbey, the church was also dedicated to the Holy Cross. On the chapel wall portrayed some of Claire’s conversation with Christ concerning His cross. In 1294, when she was only 26, she asked Him, “Where are you going Lord?” He answered, “I have been searching the whole world over for a strong place to plant my cross, but I have found none.” He tells her, “Clare I have found a place for my cross. I shall place it in your heart.” From that day on, Claire’s body ached with acute pain, marked there by Christ Himself.

By July of 1308, Claire’s illness had become so severe that she was bedridden. On the 15th of August, she was asked to receive the Holy Oil of the Sick. On the 17th, after confessing her sins to the monastery chaplain, she declared “There is little life for me to say, for today I shall be with Christ, because I go with Him.  The life of the soul is the love of God.” Claire’s body was embalmed and to this day lies in state, incorrupt, in the church of the Augustinian nuns of Montefalco, Italy. Her heart bears the marks of the Passion, the Cross and the instruments of Christ’s Passion, just as she had said.

Pope Leo XIII declared Claire as Saint on December 8, 1887 at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. St. Claire’s Mission Statement: We bring together and welcome into our Catholic Community a richly diverse people to pray, to serve, and to learn in the name of the Blessed Trinity. Relics of Sta. Clara de Montefalco: When St. Claire’s heart was removed from her body, it has been discocovered that the symbols of Christ’s passion: a crucifix and a scourage were found within her heart. In her gall bladder, three stones were found which were as large as hazelnuts and perfectly equal in shape, color and weight which all agreed in interpreting them as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Her spirituality was characterized by “unity of mind and heart” with gifts of wisdom and knowledge made visible in acts of love.

Today, in the adoration chapel of Sta. Clara Parish Church at P. Burgos St., Pasay City, the bone relic of our Patroness can be seen.