Calling on Clare:
The saint with a heart for our needs

St. Clare of Assisi had a heart as big as the world.  In his letter for the 8th Centenary of her birth, St. John Paul II noted that there was no concern, suffering, anguish or discouragement of others that did not find an echo in the heart of this prayerful woman.

The Church officially proclaimed St. Clare the Patroness of Television in 1958.  Yet down through the centuries, the faithful have called upon the Seraphic Mother in a variety of needs and under a variety of titles.  For example, our Holy Mother Clare is often invoked as…

Patroness of Tailors & Seamstresses

Among the precious relics kept at the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi are the Holy Mother’s well-darned, much-mended mantle and the exquisite linen and lace alb that she made for St. Francis in his service as a deacon.  The mantle speaks of the Lady Clare’s love of holy poverty; the alb of her love of beauty and liturgical decorum.  Both alb and mantle witness to what an accomplished seamstress St. Clare was and how willingly she went the extra mile with her trusty needle, both for the Lord and for the Lady Poverty.

Intercessor for those with Eye Afflictions

People, especially in France , kept a good memory of one of the first miracles St. Clare worked after her death – the restoration of the vision of a blind man named Giacobello.  The French understanding of her name also highlights the CLEAR-ness of St. Clare’s spiritual vision and her readiness to help others attain CLARITY of bodily and spiritual sight.  

Patroness of Good Weather

Another longstanding tradition of popular piety is praying to St. Clare for the blessing of good weather, or, as one Franciscan scholar states very precisely, good weather with a CLEAR sky.  Said scholar was also very exact about the traditional offering to be made for a “CLARE-sky” day: the gift of one dozen eggs to the nearest monastery of Poor Clares!

Helper in Childbirth

This Clarian prayer patronage can be traced directly back to our Saint’s own life.  The early biographies of St. Clare tell of her mother, Lady Ortolana, praying before a crucifix shortly before giving birth to her eldest daughter.  To her plea for protection during childbirth, the voice of the Crucified replied: Fear not, O woman, for you will bring forth a light that will greatly illumine the world.

This incident made such an impression on Ortolana that she recounted it to her daughter Clare, who in turn shared it with her spiritual daughters  in  the  monastery of San  Damiano. Those first Sisters passed the story on to succeeding generations of Poor Clares, who continue to implore their Seraphic Foundress’ protection for all expectant mothers.

Friend of Children in Need

St. Clare’s concern for mothers and their little ones was not limited to childbirth.  People instinctively brought their children to her monastery, confident that the Lady Clare’s tender yet powerful prayers would avail on their behalf.  And they were right!  The toddler with the pebble in his nose and the boy with a cyst on his eye were but the first of many children to experience St. Clare’s maternal help, which continues to this very day,

Protectress against Pirates, Patroness of Sailors, Fishermen and Lighthouse Keepers

            It may seem paradoxical to invoke the prayers of a cloistered nun for the needs of sea workers and for protection against pirates.

Yet, St. Clare herself confounded land-bound pirates with the power of prayer and the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.   She also knows what faith and patience are involved in “fishing” for souls and in sailing the high seas of sanctity.   And she, whose name means “light,” is still a beacon for those seeking the safe harbor of God ’s love.

These are but a few of the causes commended to the intercession of St. Clare of Assisi .  How many lives have been touched by her Gospel witness, her spirituality and her efficacious prayers!  She shows us firsthand what  Pope Benedict XVI meant when he said: It is those who are holy who change the world for the better; they transform it permanently, instilling in it the energies that only love inspired by the Gospel can elicit.  The Saints are humanity’s great benefactors!

St. Clare of Assisi , pray for us!

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