Saint of the Day – 9 December – Venerable Clara Isabella Fornari OSC (1697–1744) Virgin, Nun of the Poor Clares, Mystic, Stigmatist, Ecstatic, Born on 25 June 1697 at Rome, Italy as Ana Felícia Fornari and died on 9 December 1744. Also known as – Ana Felecia Fornari, Chiara Fornari.
Born in Rome on 25 June 1697, Ana Felícia Fornari entered the novitiate of the Poor Clares in Todi at the age of fifteen. Her religious life was guided by her Confessor, the Jesuit, Fr Crivelli. Taking the name Clara Isabella, she made her profession the following year, and since then her life became a series of the most extraordinary phenomena, recorded in the Beatification process and confirmed under oath by her companions, her Confessor and her doctor.
She had frequent and prolonged ecstasies; she received numerous visits from Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, St Clare and St Catherine Siena. During one of them, Jesus put the ring which symbolised His spiritual consortium, on her finger. He took pleasure in calling her “His spouse of pain .”
Clara Isabella participated, in fact, in the sufferings of the Divine Crucified: her hands, feet and side were marked with visible Stigmata, from which blood sometimes flowed. On her head was a crown whose thorns grew inwards, coming out over her forehead, falling off and falling bloodied. The tortures and demonic persecutions she suffered are reminiscent of those suffered a hundred years later by the Holy Parish Priest of Ars. Since her novitiate, the devil had tempted her with despair and suicide; then he mistreated her, throwing her down the stairs and tried to take her faith.
In the last months of her life, she seemed abandoned by God, having lost even the memory of past consolations. She only regained her former joy shortly before her death, in the year 1744. A Beatification process for Mother Clara Isabella is underway.
Devotion to Our Lady of Confidence (Madonna della Confiança):
The invocation of Nossa Senhora da Confiança was introduced into the Church in the 18th century by Venerable Clara Isabella Fornari, who had a very special devotion to the Holy Mother of God and always carried a painting with her, an artwork of the Madonna with the Child Jesus in her arms.
Soon several copies began to circulate in Italy. Many graces and cures were attributed to this painting and in 1917 Pope Benedict XV Crowned Nossa Senhora da Confiança canonically confirming its Title and the day of its feast – 24 February.
he picture was painted by the great Italian artist Carlo Maratta (1625-1713). In 1704 he became Court Painter to Louis XIV. It is said that the renowned artist gave the painting to a young noblewoman who became Abbess of the Convent of the Poor Clares of St Francis in the City of Todi. She is today Venerable Mother Clara Isabella Fornari.
According to the Venerable’s own words, Our Lady made special promises to her regarding this painting: “My Celestial Lady, with the love of a true Mother, assured me that all souls who confidently present themselves before this image, will obtain true knowledge , sorrow and repentance for their sins and the Blessed Virgin will grant them a particular devotion and tenderness for Her.” (This promise applies not only to the original painting, but also to all copies of it.)
One of the copies was taken to the Major Seminary in Rome, of which she became Patroness. Every year, on the 24th of February, the Pontiff himself goes to venerate her.
Among the prodigious facts that prove Her protection of the Seminary are the two occurences (1837 and 1867), when a cholera epidemic hit the Eternal City but the Roman Seminary was miraculously spared by the powerful intercession of its Patroness.
In the 1st. World War, about a hundred seminarians were sent to the battlefront and placed themselves under the special protection of Our Lady of Confidence. They all returned alive, a grace they attributed to the protection of the Blessed Virgin. In gratitude, they enthroned the blessed painting in a new Chapel of marble and silver.