Immersion in anniversaries -- the reclamation of the past as a platform from which to launch out into the future -- was an integral part of Saint Pope John Paul II’s experience, wrote his biographer.   It has also been an integral part of the Franciscan experience the past two decades, as we have immersed ourselves in significant Seraphic milestones such as the 8th centenary of the birth of St. Clare and the 800th anniversary of the approval of the First Rule of St. Francis.
8th Centenary of the Founding of our Order

On the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the religious consecration of St. Clare of Assisi, from which sprang the Second Franciscan Order (known after her death as the Order of Poor Clares), the Holy Father, by reason of his loving solicitude for the Universal Church and his special affection for the Poor Clare Nuns, has granted a plenary indulgence.  This indulgence may be gained once a day during the jubilee year, which began on April 16, 2011, and will conclude on August 12, 2012.

What is a Plenary Indulgence?

A plenary indulgence is the total remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.   An indulgence can be gained by the faithful Christian who is duly disposed under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. Indulgences may be applied to oneself or to the dead.               (cf. CATECHISM #1471)

How may this Jubilee Indulgence be gained?

The plenary indulgence may be gained
By the Nuns

as often as they visit the church or principal chapel of the monastery.

 By All the Faithful
 who visit a church attached to the monasteries
of the Order of St. Clare on any day freely chosen;

on every occasion they take part in devout pilgrimages
as a group to the aforesaid holy places;

-   if they devoutly assist at jubilee celebrations on any of the following feasts:
   Feast of St. Clare, August 11, 2011
 Feast of St. Francis, October 4, 2011
  Feast of St. Clare, August 11, 2012
- as well as during the tridua immediately preceding these feasts,
and on other days to be properly determined;
  in all the solemn celebrations that will take place in Assisi
throughout the jubilee year of St. Clare

What is required?
Those  seeking to gain this plenary indulgence should:
     1.  be truly repentant,
2.  make expiation for their sins through sacramental Confession,
3. devoutly receive Eucharistic Communion,
     4. participate devoutly in some jubilee pilgrimage,  celebration, or pious exercise,
OR dedicate themselves at least for a certain amount of time to pious meditation, 
concluding their exercise or meditation with
- the Lord’s Prayer
- any legitimate formula of the Profession of Faith 
- and invocations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi

        The elderly, the infirm and all those who for any legitimate reason are confined to their homes, can also obtain the plenary indulgence  if: 
-  they sincerely repent of all their sins,
-  have the intention of fulfilling at the earliest possible opportunity the three usual conditions
(Confession, Holy Communion, and the prayers indicated in #4 of the previous section)
and if they unite themselves spiritually with the jubilee celebrations,
offering their prayers and sufferings to the God of Mercy through the intercession of Mary.

- adapted from the Decree “Honoring the 
800th Anniversary of the Poor Clare Nuns,”
issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary
April 16, 2011

A Concluding Thought from Pope Benedict XVI

    Grateful to God, who gives us saints who speak to our hearts and offer us an example of Christian life to imitate, I would like to offer the same words of Blessing that St. Clare composed for her Sisters and which the Poor Clares, who play a precious role in the Church with their prayer and with their work, still preserve today with great devotion:

I bless you during my life and after my death 
as much as I am able and even more than I am able,
with all the blessings by which
the Father of Mercies has blessed and will bless
His spiritual sons and daughters
in heaven and on earth.  Amen.

-from the General Audience 
Pope Benedict XVI
September 15, 2010

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On April 16, 2011, the vigil of Palm Sunday, the Franciscan family began its commemoration of another significant anniversary -- the 8th Centenary of the Founding of the Order of Poor Clares.  The Clarian Jubilee Year will reach its climax on March 18, 2012 , the 800th anniversary of our Mother St. Clare’s Profession, and will conclude on August 12, 2012 . 

      Immersion in this Clarian anniversary leads us to ponder those early days at the monastery of San Damiano.  We know that our Holy Mother Clare and her first Sisters lived enclosed. They prayed the Divine Office by day and by midnight .  They adored Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  They did simple manual labor.  And they PRAYED - for the Church, for their city, their country, for everyone in the world.  It is a past we are privileged and proud to “claim” as our own, a charism we cherish as our form of life today.

The noble and lofty tree which is our Mother St. Clare’s religious family has continued to grow over the centuries, spreading throughout the world.  In 1986, a shoot from that great tree was planted in Belleville .  While our anniversary immersion span is a modest twenty-five years, it offers ample opportunities to marvel at all that has transpired -- the warm welcome, the faith-filled friendships, the generous support given to our monastic family as we, like the first daughters of St. Clare, continue the contemplatives’ work of building the communion of the Church and of fulfilling a mission for the good of the whole Church. Verbi Sponsa, 6  Our community’s silver jubilee festivities came to a climax on Monday, June 6, as our Bishop, Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton,  and  eight  priests  concelebrated a festive  Mass of  thanksgiving.   It was a joyful occasion, a celebration of  faith in the cloistered contemplative life and an ecclesial  proclamation  of  the intimate connection  between prayer and the  spreading of  the Kingdom of God , prayer and the conversion  of hearts, between  prayer and the  fruitful  reception  of  the Gospel message. Saint Pope John Paul II

In June 1986, on our first visit to the property where the permanent monastery would be built, our guide pointed to a little oak tree. “It can be your foundation tree,” he suggested, “putting down roots just as your community will be doing in the coming years.”  In June 2011, our “foundation tree” stands straight and tall, its roots firmly established in the fertile Illinois soil.   We hope it is both the symbol of how deeply rooted the ideal of our Mother St. Clare is here and the pledge of a continuing harvest of prayer for the Church, for the world and for you whose intentions are enfolded with deep gratitude in our novena prayers.

                                                                                                                Devotedly, in our Seraphic Mother St. Clare,
                                                             Your Poor Clare Sisters