Saint Clare of Assisi

Born at Assisi on July 16, 1194, Clare was a beautiful Italian noblewoman. At 18 years old, after listening to the Lenten preaching of St. Francis, she decided to follow him. Her prayers stopped rouge soldiers from destroying Assisi. She became the Foundress of the order of Poor Ladies (“Poor Clares”) and first Abbess of San Damiano. She died on August 11, 1253 and was declared patroness of all those with eye problems.

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Deeply influenced by St. Francis of Assisi, she refused to marry as her parents wished and fled (March 18, 1212) to the Porziuncola Chapel below Assisi, where Francis received her vows, thus marking the beginning of the Second Order of St. Francis. Many joined Clare, including her mother and her sister St. Agnes. Soon the Poor Clares were housed in the church and convent of San Damiano, near Assisi, where Clare became abbess in 1216. Clare’s great concern was to obtain a rule reflecting the spirit of Francis to replace the Benedictine rule that Cardinal Ugolino (later Pope Gregory IX) had adapted for her order. Two days before she died Pope Innocent IV approved her definitive rule.

Besides its “privilege of perfect poverty,” forbidding the ownership of property even by the community, Clare’s order is noted for its apostolic aim: she considered its penitential prayer life a spiritually vitalizing force for church and society. This view was shared by the popes and by the grateful citizens of Assisi, who credited Clare with twice saving their city from destruction. On the first occasion, Clare caused the convent chaplain to elevate the Host at the refectory window, whereupon the Moorish allies of the Holy Roman emperor Frederick II, who were storming the walls, fell back. On the second occasion, when a larger force headed by General Vitale d’Aversa besieged Assisi, Clare and her nuns fervently prayed for the Assisians, and a great storm dispersed the attackers. She was credited with other miracles in life and after death. In 1958 Pope Pius XII declared her patron of television, alluding to an incident during her last illness when she miraculously heard and saw the Christmas midnight mass in the basilica of San Francesco on the far side of Assisi.

Saint Clare of Assisi. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved September 12, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/119776/Saint-Clare-of-Assisi
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The Monasterio de Sta. Clara, a popular monastery originally located in Intramuros before the war, is where nuns of the Order of Saint Clare of Assisi (known as the Poor Clares) lead a life of prayer and strictly follow the vow of poverty. The cream-colored church is where by tradition, people come with offerings (usually eggs) and ask the saintly nuns to pray for good weather.
Regarding the traditional offering of eggs, Philippine National Artist for Literature, Alejandro Roces, in his book Fiesta, theorized that Sta. Clara’s name has something to do with it for the word clara, in the language of Castille, means “fair weather” (particularly during rainy days) and also pertains to the “puti ng itlog” (albumen or egg whites) in Spanish. It translates to offer claras (egg whites) to Sta. Clara to pray for a clara (fair weather) on a particular day.

The offering of a dozen eggs, according to people following the tradition, represents the twelve months of the year though most people who come there wish for only a day or two without rain (if it were without rain in a year, expect a famine).

In Rizal’s second novel, El Filibusterismo, it’s in Monasterio de Santa Clara where Maria Clara entered to become a nun, and died before Simoun was able to rescue her.

St. Clare is the same patron of Obando, Bulacan where the fertility rite performe by childless women while singing “Santa Clarang pinong-pino, Ang pangako ko ay ganito, Pagdating ko sa Obando, Sasayaw ako ng pandanggo.” However, St. Clare’s life story narrated that she died a virgin and therefore childless. Ironic, isn’t it?

Tips:

enterprising people sell eggs wrapped in colorful plastic as offering. letters and prayer requests can be written outside the monastery.
Taking pictures inside the monastery is NOT allowed, but permitted at the chapel

Order of St. Clare (OSC) a.k.a. Monasterio de Santa Clara
C-5 Katipunan Ave., 1108 Quezon City
Tel: +63.2.913.5159
(part of Diocese of Cubao)

Related links:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04004a.htm
http://graceandspace.org/welcome/moments/novena/158-novena-to-st-clare-of-assisi.html
http://www.marypages.com/ClareAssisi.htm
http://holyecards.com/mon/clare/clare.shtml
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=215
http://www.fodc.net/NovenaofStClare.html
http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-clare-of-assisi/

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