Saint of the Day: St. Clare of Assisi | d. 1253 | Feast: August 11th
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.
Today, we celebrate the life and words of St. Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the Poor Clares. Taken by the words of St. Francis, she left her family (which was attempting to marry her off) to follow him at the age of 18. Originally a Benedictine, Clare moved into a building near the church at Saint Damiano, where the contemplative, Franciscan Poor Clares order took form. Today there are over twenty thousand nuns in the order all over the world.
To celebrate St. Clare with a loved one and educate about her life through a symbolically rich work of sacred art, take a look at our St. Clare plaques once you’ve read a bit about why we are honoring her today.
We honor Clare today both as a powerful mystical thinker in the great tradition of St. Francis and also as a powerful example of the importance of poverty and service in this world as the centerpiece of one’s religious life. Contemplation surely enlarges the soul, but it must be leavened with the care and love for the poor and helpless that Clare (and her still-vibrant Order) embodies.
The quote above from St. Clare reminds us of the importance of contemplative prayer in attaining our end, or goal: to purify and clarify the divine image within us. As we are reminded throughout the Bible, the imprint of God is everywhere, within us and without us: “Let us make mankind in our image, according to our likeness.” Clare in this quote is imploring us to see the evidence of the eternal and of eternity that inheres in all things; to allow this seeing to illuminate the eternal within our hearts, and therefore to put on a new self, purified from the contingent things of this world and subsisting entirely in the purity of the image of God (whose reflection we see everywhere).
What are some of your favorite ways to cultivate contemplation? How do you seek the mirror of God’s eternity? In nature? In your fellow humans?
St. Clare Saving a Child from a Wolf