Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, MYSTICS, PATRONAGE - EYES, PATRONAGE - TELEVISION, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin

Saint of the Day – 12 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) Virgin. Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.

The Roman Martyrology reads today: “At Assisi, in Umbria. Italy, St Clare, Virgin, the first of the poor woman of the Order of Minors. Being celebrated for holiness of life and miracles. she was placed among holy virgins, by Alexander IV.

St Clare, Virgin, Founder,
Mystic, Miracle-worker
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888) (Excerpt)

St.Clare, Founder of the Order which bears her name, was born of rich and pious parents, at Assisi, in the district of Umbria, in Italy. She received the name of Clare, which means “clear or bright,” for the following reason. While her mother Hortulana, was kneeling before a Crucifix, praying that God might aid her in her hour of delivery, she heard the words: “Do not fear. You will give birth to a light which shall illumine the whole world.”

From her earliest childhood, prayer was Clare’s only delight. She gave to the poor all the presents which she received from her parents. She despised all costly garments, all worldly pleasures. Beneath the fine clothes she was obliged to wear, she wore a rough hair-girdle. She partook of so little food that it seemed as if she wished to observe a continual fast.

During this same period lived St Francis, surnamed “the Seraphic,” on account of his great virtues. Clare frequently went to him and confided to him, her desire to renounce the world and to consecrate her virginity to God and to lead a perfect life in the most abject poverty. St Francis who saw that besides other gifts and graces, she was filled with the most ardent love of God, possessing great innocence of heart and despising the world, strengthened her in her holy desire, while at the same time, he tested her constancy. Being sufficiently convinced that her desires were inspired by Heaven, he advised Clare to leave her home, which she did on Palm Sunday, going to the Church of the Portiuncula, where she had her hair cut off, as a sign that she would enter a religious life. She divested herself of all feminine ornament, and attired in a penitential garb, tied around her with a cord, she was placed. by St Francis in a vacant Benedictine Convent. She was at that time just eighteen years of age.

When her parents heard of what she had done, they hastened to the Convent, to take Clare home, declaring that this choice of a state of life was only a childish whim, or that she had been persuaded to it by others. Clare, however, after opposing their arguments, fled into the Church, and clinging to the Altar with one hand, with the other she showed her head shorn of its hair, exclaiming: “Know all, that I desire no other bridegroom but Jesus Christ. Understanding well what I was doing, I chose Him and I will never leave Him.” Astonished at this answer, all returned home, admiring her virtue and piety. Clare thanked God for this victory and was, on account of it, all the more strengthened in her resolution.

Clare had a sister younger than herself, named Agnes. A few days later she, too, fled from her parents’ roof and going to Clare, wished to be invested in the same habit and to serve God in the same manner. St Clare received her joyfully but as all her relatives were provoked beyond measure that she, too, had entered a Convent, twelve of them went and forcibly tore her from her sister’s arms. Clare took refuge in prayer and, as if inspired by the Almighty, ran after her sister, loudly calling her by name. God assisted her by a miracle. Agnes suddenly became immovable, as if rooted to the ground and no-one possessed strength enough to drag her from where she stood. Recognising in this, the powerful hand of God, they opposed her no longer but allowed her to return to the Convent.

Meanwhile, St Francis had rebuilt the old Church of St Damiano and had bought the neighbouring house. Into this house he placed his first two religious daughters, Clare and Agnes, who were speedily joined by others, desirous of conforming themselves to the rule of life which St Francis had given to Clare. This was the beginning of the Order of Poor Clares, which has since given to the world, so many shining examples of virtue and holiness, to the salvation of many thousands of souls.

St Clare was appointed Abbess by St Francis and filled the office for forty two years with wonderful wisdom and holiness. Her mother too, together with her youngest daughter, took the habit and submitted to the government of St Clare.

She was, to all in her charge, a bright example of poverty. In austerity towards herself, she was more to be admired than imitated. The floor or a bundle of straw was her bed, a piece of wood, her pillow. Twice during the year she kept a forty days’ fast on bread and water. Besides this, three days of the week, she tasted no food and so little on the others that it is marvellous that she could sustain life with it. The greater part of the night, she spent in prayer and her desire for mortification was so great that St. Francis compelled her to moderate her austerities.

She nursed the sick with the greatest pleasure, as in this work of charity, she found almost constant opportunity to mortify and overcome herself. Besides all her other virtues, she was especially remarkable for her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She sometimes remained whole hours immovable before the Tabernacle and was often seen in ecstacy, so great was her love for the Saviour it concealed. She sought her comfort in Him alone in all her trials, amidst all her persecutions and how great were the graces she thereby received, the following event will sufficiently illustrate.

The Saracens besieged Assisi and made preparations to scale the walls of the Convent. St Clare, who was sick at the time, had herself carried to the gates of the Convent, where, with the Ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, in her hands, prostrating herself in company with all her religious, she cried aloud: “O Lord, do not give into the hands of the infidels, the souls of those who acknowledge and praise Thee. Protect and preserve Thy handmaidens whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.” A voice was distinctly heard, saying: “I will protect you always.”

The result proved that this was the Voice of Heaven. The Saracens, seized with a sudden fear, betook themselves to flight, those who had already scaled the walls, became blind and flung themselves down. Thus were St Clare and her religious protected and the whole City preserved from utter devastation, by the piety and devotion of the Saint to the Blessed Sacrament.
We must omit many miracles which God wrought through His faithful servant.

[When St Clare] … had reached the age of sixty years, during twenty-eight of which, she had suffered from various painful maladies, although she had not been confined to her bed, or rather, her bundle of straw. Her patience while suffering was remarkable and she was never heard to complain.

The hour of her death drew near and she saw a great many white-robed virgins come to meet her, among whom was one who surpassed all the rest in beauty. She followed them and they led her to see the Almighty face-to face. Several who had read in the depths of her heart, said that she died more from the fervour of her love for God, than from the effects of her sickness. Her holy death took place in 1253. The great number of miracles wrought after her death, through her intercession and the heroic virtues which made her so remarkable, induced Pope Alexander IV., only two years later, to place her in the number of Saints.

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - A HOLY DEATH & AGAINST A SUDDEN DEATH, PATRONAGE - DOCTORS,MIDWIVES, PATRONAGE - EPILEPSY, PATRONAGE - EYES, PATRONAGE - HEADACHES, PATRONAGE - THE SICK, THE INFIRM, ALL ILLNESS, PATRONAGE-INFERTILITY & SAFE CHILDBIRTH, PATRONAGE-STOMACH PAIN, SAINT of the DAY

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.
A group of Saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Notable Martyrs Saints within the Group are:
Acacius, Barbara, Blaise, Christopher, Cyriacus, Catherine of Alexandria, Denis, Erasmus of Formia, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.

Devotion to these fourteen ,as a group, spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hour. Many died without the last Sacraments.

Brigands roamed the streets, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the Saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance.

Pope Nicholas V attached Indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.

Saint Christopher and Saint Giles are nvoked against the plague itself.
Saint Denis is prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat,
Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies,
Saint Barbara for fever and Saint Vitus against epilepsy.
Saint Pantaleon is the Patron of physicians,
Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed and Saints Christopher, Barbara and Catherine, for protection against a sudden and unprovided death.
Saint Giles is prayed to for a good Confession and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles.
Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague and so, Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus are invoked for the protection of these animals.
Saint Margaret of Antioch is the Patron of safe childbirth.

The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and social duties. If they, with the aid of God’s grace, achieved such victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the very little which is desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal bliss – the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession of His Servants and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith, sees nothing extraordinary therein because our Divine Saviour, Himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do and greater than these shall he do” (John 14:12). In all the miraculous events wrought in and by the Saints, there appears only the victorious omnipotent Power of Jesus Christ and the living faith, in which His Servants operated in virtue of this power.

The histories of the Saints are called Legends.
This word is derived from the Latin,and signifies something that is to be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed.
Therefore, the Legends of the Saints are the lives of the holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith.
Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic Clergy is obliged to read everyday.

(The corruption of this word has occurred in modern times, giving it a meaning of either “unprovable story or celebrity.”)

A little more about the 14 Holy Helpers and a prayer to them by St Alphonsus Liguori here:  https://anastpaul.com/2018/07/25/thought-for-the-day-25-july-the-memorial-of-st-christopher-died-c-251-one-of-the-fourteen-holy-helpers/

Posted in AUGUSTINIANS OSA, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Kjeld of Viborg OSA (Died c 1150) “St Francis of the North”

Saint of the Day – 11 July – Saint Kjeld of Viborg OSA (Died c 1150) St Francis of the North,” Priest, Apostle of the poor, needy and sick. Born in Denmark and died in c 1150 n Viborg, Denmark of natural causes. Patronage – Viborg, Denmark, of the blind and those with eye diseases. Also known as – “St Francis of Assisi of the North,” Ketil, Ketille, Kield, Exuperian.

Kjeld was born in the early 12th Century to wealthy parents, who lived on a farm in central Denmark. He was a Godly boy and it was soon decided that he should have a future in the Church. He was sent to Viborg, where he joined the Cathedral College or Chapter. The Cathedral Chapter was the place where Priests were trained and while they lived as Canons at the Cathedral, they assisted the Bishop in his administrative work. The Canons Regular lived in a community following St Augustine’s Rule and they were led by a Prior.

Kjeld thrived in the Cathedral Chapter, where he was elected as head of the Cathedral Chapter College and around 1145 he was elected Prior of the other Canons. Kjeld was a very caring, generous and compassionate man who gave all he could to the sick, poor and needy. It is told in his biography that IN 1145, when Viborg City was threatened by fire, Kjeld ran to the Tower of the Cathedral, where he prayed fervently to God to spare the City and the Church, after which the fire miraculously receded.

Despite the fact that the Canons had chosen Kjeld as their Prior, there soon came disputes between them and him, apparently because they objected to his generous distribution of the Cathedral Chapter’s funds to the poor. The Canons elected a new Prior and Kjeld moved to Aalborg for a while. Although Kjeld was popular in Aalborg he longed to spread the Christian faith and desired Martyrdom among the Wends. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he visited the Tombs of the Apostles and had an audience with Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). He sought the Pope’s permission to go on a mission among the Wends but, although he received the desired authorisation, the Pope expressed the sentiment that he would rather see Kjeld return to Viborg and continue his work as Prior of the Cathedral College. The Pope wrote to the Cathedral College, who had to bow and take Kjeld back as their leader. But soon after, in 1150, Kjeld died in Viborg and was buried in the Cathedral.

Numerous miracles were granted by God at his grave. The sick became healthy after visits to the tomb and the blind especially, were granted their sight – according to the Saint’s biography, at least twelve people had their sight restored. The Church authorities now sought Kjeld’s Canonisation and they, therefore, sent a request to the Pope in Rome. In 1188 Pope Clement III (1187-1191) consented and the Archbishop Absalon celebrated Kjeld’s Canonisation locally, which occurred on 11 July 1189.

Viborg Cathedral
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 7 June – Saint Deochar OSB (Died 847) Another Patron of the Blind and those with Eye Diseases

Saint of the Day – 7 June – Saint Deochar OSB (Died 847) Monk, Abbot, Hermit, Disciple and Spiritual Student of Blessed Alcuin, Founder of a Monastery and first Abbot in Herrieden, in modern Bavaria, Germany., Royal Messenger and as such, translated the Relics of the great St Boniface to Fulda, Germany. Born in the late 8th century, probably in Bavaria, Germany and died in 847 at his Abbey of Herriedon, Germany of natural causes. Patronages of the blind and of those with eye diseases. Also known as – Deocarus, Deotker, Dietger, Gottlief, Theotgar, Theutger.

Deochar was a disciple of the blessed Alcuin at the Court of Emperor Charlemagne. He retired to solitude in Haserode (later Herrieden) as a Hermit. In around 782, Charlemagne built him a Chapel and later a Benedictine Monastery on the site opposite the Church in Herrieden, which Church, is dedicated to him today. Here, Deochare became a Monk and the first Abbot. In 793 King Charles visited Deochar and in 796 ,he sent his Court theologian, Alcuin to settle the Abbot’s difficulties with some of his Monks.

Since 802, Deochar was also a Royal Messenger and, therefore, in 819, he was involved, in the transfer of the Relics of the great St Boniface to Fulda. The first image above depicts this event.

In 829, Deochar headed the list of signatories to the Synod of Mainz, being an authority on Sacred Scripture and on the monastic rule,

 He died at an advanced age and received his final resting place in a Shrine in the Collegiate Church of St Vitus and St Deochar in Hasareoda / Herrieden. In 1316. a part of his Relics was transferred by King Ludwig as the spoils of victory, to the Chapel in the Church of St Lorenz in Nuremberg, now named after Deochar. In 1845 they came to Eichstätt . The part of the Relics brought by King Ludwig to his residence, the Alter Hof in Munich, was destroyed in World War II.

High grave, 1482, in the Blasisus Chapel of the Basilica
of St Vitus and St Deocar in Herrieden

St Deochar’s Patronage of the blind relates to a famous miracle which occurred due to his prayer on behalf of a blind boy child, who was immediately cured.

St Deochar cures a blind child
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 19 May – Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (909-988) Bishop of London, Worcester then Archbishop of Canterbury,

Saint of the Day – 19 May – Saint Dunstan of Canterbury (909-988) Bishop of London, Worcester then Archbishop of Canterbury, Priest, Monk, Abbot. As Abbot, he was the principal agent in the restoration of English monasticism, following the devastation of the Viking invasions. He was renowned as a great Scholar, Painter, Musician and Metalsmith, Writer and Poet, as well as being a Counsellor of Kings and a zealous reforming Bishop. Born in 909 at Baltonsborough, Glastonbury, England and died on 19 May 988 at Canterbury, England of natural causes. Patronages – Armourers, blacksmiths, the blind and sight-impaired, bell-ringers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, jewellers, lighthouse keepers, locksmiths, musicians, swordsmiths, Diocese of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

St Dunstan was the son of Heorstan, Anglo-Saxon nobleman, born in the early 10th century near Glastonbury during the reign of King Athelstan. Northern Europe and the British Isles had been under attack and conquest from the Danes and Vikings for several centuries and many coastal communities and monasteries, had been destroyed by the invaders. As a young boy he was introduced to the Irish scholars who visited the renowned Monastery at Glastonbury.

After recovering from a near fatal illness, beloved to be leprosy, he pursued his studies with a zeal for knowledge and artistic skills. He became well known for his devotion and was summoned by his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, to enter his service. He soon became a favourite of King Aethelstan which aroused the envy of the King’s Court. St. Dunstan was accused of studying magic and heathen literature and was attacked by his enemies who bound, gagged him and threw him into a filthy pit . He escaped to Winchester and entered the service of the Bishop, another uncle, St Alphege. Following an illness caused by his treatment at Court, he was persuaded by his uncle to become a Monk.

Following his Ordination to the Priesthood by his uncle in 934, he returned to Glastonbury and built a cell alongside the Church of St Mary. His cell was tiny only 5 feet (150 cms) long by 2ft 6ins(75 cms) wide. At this time, the devil tempted him but Dunstan seized Satan’s face with his smith’s tongs.

In 940 after the death of King Aethelstan, he was summoned by the new King, Eadmund and appointed a Counsellor but again he was driven from the Court by jealous courtiers. After narrowly escaping death while hunting, the King remembered the harsh treatment that Dunstan had received at Court. At Glastonbury, he took St Dunstan by the hand, gave him a kiss of peace and led him to the Abbot’s throne.

In his position as Abbot of Glastonbury, St Dunstan set about recreating the monastic life and rebuilding the Abbey. He rebuilt the Church of St Peter, the cloister and reestablished the monastic enclosure. Only two years later, King Eadmond was assassinated, and was succeeded by Eadred. As Abbot of Glastonbury, Dunstan was appointed Guardian of the Royal treasure. The new King encouraged the spread of Christian devotion and observance and the expulsion of heathendom. Dunstan became deeply involved in secular politics and incurred the enmity of the West Saxon nobles, for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes.

In 955, Eadred died and was succeeded by Eadwig. Different from his predecessor he was under the influence of two unprincipled women. After the coronation, Dunstan discovered the King with his two harlots and was again forced to flee from the Court in exile. He took refuge at a Benedictine Monastery in Ghent. He stayed in Ghent for a year, during which time he came into contact with the reformed continental monasticism which was to inspire his vision of Benedictine perfection.

In 957, the nobles, unable to endure the excesses of King Eadwig, drove him out. His successor Eadgar, asked St Dunstan to return and appointed him Archbishop of Worchester In the following year, the See of London became vacant and was conferred on Dunstan, who held it simultaneously with Worcester.

One of Eadwig’s final acts had been to appoint a successor to Archbishop Oda of Canterbury, who died on 2 June 958. The chosen candidate was Ælfsige of Winchester but he died of cold in the Alps as he journeyed to Rome to receive the Pallium. In his place. Eadwig then nominated the Bishop of Wells, Byrhthelm. However, as soon as Edgar became King, he reversed this second choice on the ground that Byrhthelm had not been able to govern even his first Diocese in a successful manner. The Archbishopric was then conferred on Dunstan.

In 960, Dunstan journeyed to Rome to receive the Pallium from Pope John XII. On his journey there, Dunstan’s acts of charity were so lavish as to leave nothing for himself and his attendants. His steward complained but Dunstan replied that they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and all would be well..

On his return from Rome, Dunstan at once regained his position as virtual prime minister of the Kingdom. By his advice, Ælfstan was appointed to the Bishopric of London and Oswald, to that of Worcester. In 963, Æthelwold, the Abbot of Abingdon, was appointed to the See of Winchester. With their aid and with the ready support of King Edgar, Dunstan was able to implement his reforms in the English Church. The Monks were taught to live in a spirit of self-sacrifice and Dunstan actively enforced the law of celibacy. He forbade the practices of simony (selling ecclesiastical offices for money) and ended the custom of clerics appointing relatives to offices under their jurisdiction. New Monasteries were built and in some of the great Cathedrals, Monks took the place of the Secular Canons and Canons were obliged to live according to rule. The Parish Priests were compelled to be qualified for their office; they were urged to teach Parishioners not only the truths of the Christian faith but als, trades to improve their lives. The state saw reforms as well. Good order was maintained throughout the realm and there was respect for the law. Trained bands policed the north and a navy guarded the shores from Viking raids. There was a level of peace in the Kingdom unknown in living memory.

Dunstan’s influence under the new Monarch began to wane and he retired to Canterbury. His retirement at Canterbury consisted of long hours, both day and night, spent in private prayer, as well as his regular attendance at Mass and the daily Office. He visited the Shrines of St Augustine and St Æthelberht, and there are reports of a vision of angels who sang to him heavenly canticles. He worked to improve the spiritual and temporal well-being of his people, to build and restore Churches, to establish schools, to judge suits, to defend widows and orphans, to promote peace and to enforce respect for purity. He practised his crafts, made bells and organs and collated the books in the Cathedral library. He encouraged and protected European scholars who came to England, and was active as a Teacher in the Cathedral school.

On the Vigil of Ascension Day 988, it is recorded that a vision of angels warned he would die in three days. On the Feast day of Ascension itself, Dunstan celebrated Holy Mass and preached three times to the faithful. In this last address, he announced his impending death and wished his congregation well. That afternoon he chose the spot for his tomb, then went to his bed. His strength failed rapidly and on Saturday morning, 19 May, he caused the Clergy to assemble. Mass was celebrated in his presence, then he received Extreme Unction and the Viaticum and died. Dunstan’s final words are reported to have been, “He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: He hath given food to them that fear Him.

The English people accepted him as a Saint shortly thereafter. He was formally Canonised in 1029 Pope John XIX. That year, at the Synod of Winchester, St Dunstan’s feast was ordered to be kept solemnly throughout England

English literature contains many references to St Dunstan, for example, in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and in this folk rhyme:

St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil, after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is the origin of the lucky horseshoe. Until St Thomas Becket’s fame overshadowed Dunstan’s, St Dunstan  was the most popular Saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which, were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil. Eighteen Churches in England are named after St Dunstan, including two famous ones in the City of London, as well as a number of schools, hospitals and other institutions, including the Charity established to help those blinded as a result of war.

Dunstan had been buried in his Cathedral and when that building was destroyed by a fire in 1074, his relics were translated by Archbishop St Lanfranc to a tomb on the south side of the High Altar, in the rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral. The Monks of Glastonbury used to claim, that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, Dunstan’s body had been carried ,for safety, to their Abbey. This story was disproved by Archbishop William Warham, who opened the tomb at Canterbury in 1508. They found Dunstan’s relics still to be there. Within a century, however, his s=Shrine was destroyed during the English Reformation.

BEFORE YOU ASK: _ I have been unsuccessful in ascertaining the reason for St Dunstan’s Patronage of the Blind. All I have so far found is the result of his Patronage – the worldwide organisations under his Patronage which are dedicated to the care and assistance of the blind and sight-impaired. I will keep trying.

The image below is from the Manuscript known as the “Glastonbury Classbook” – it is a portrait of Christ,and the Monk kneeling beside Him is believed to be a self-portrait of St Dunstan.
The text beside the Monk says: “Dunstanum memet clemens rogo, Christe, tuere / Tenarias me non sinas sorbsisse procellas” (‘I ask, merciful Christ, that You protect me, Dunstan; do not permit the Taenarian storms to swallow me‘).
Then the Statue of St Dunstan beneath the above, is on his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral and shows him holding the Glastonbury Classbook – how lovely!

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 12 May – St Domingo de la Calzada / Dominic of the Causeway ((1019 – 1109)

Saint of the Day – 12 May – St Domingo de la Calzada / Dominic of the Causeway ((1019 – 1109) Priest, Hermit, Bridge Builder, a road, a Hospital/Hostel, a Church, in effect a town, Miracle-worker. Born in 1019 as Domingo García in Victoria, Biscay, Spain and died in 1109 at Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain, of natural causes. Patronages – Spanish civil engineers. eye diseases, the blind, the Pilgrim’s Town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain. Also known as – Dominic of Landeveien, Domenico, Dominicus…

Dominic was the son of a peasant named Ximeno García. His mother was named Orodulce. We know little about his early years, except that he worked as a shepherd and then tried, in vain, to be admitted as a Monk in the Benedictine Monasteries of Valvanera and San Millán de la Cogolla. This failure caused him to retire as a Hermit to a secluded place, Ayuela, near present-day Santo Domingo de la Calzada. There he led a contemplative life until 1039.

Fundamental to his later development was the relationship he established, around this date, with Gregory, Bishop of Ostia, who arrived in Calahorra as a Papal Envoy to combat a terrible locust plague that devastated the Navarrese and Riojan territories. For five years and until the death of the future Ostiense Saint in 1044, Dominic became Bishop Gregory’s close collaborator.

He received the Priestly Ordination from Gregory’s hands. Together, they decided to build a first wooden bridge over the Oja River to facilitate the transit of pilgrims to Compostela.

After the death of Saint Gregory, Dominic returned to the area where he had spent his years of retirement and undertook a profound colonising work there. He cut down the forests, cleared the land and began the construction of a stone road that was a deviation from the traditional path between Logroño and Burgos but which became, from that moment on, the main route between Nájera and Redecilla.

To improve the conditions of the pilgrims on their way to Compostela. who began to cross it, he replaced the first wooden bridge with another made of stone and built a complex consisting of a hospital, a well and a Church, to attend to the needs of travellers. Today, it is the Casa del Santo, which is a used as a hostel by modern-day pilgrims.

Statue of Dominic de la Calzada, Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

The town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada began as a few houses built around the Hermitage of the Saint in his lifetime. At his death in 1109, the village had grown in population. King Alfonso VI of Castile annexed La Rioja in 1076 and seeing that Dominic’s efforts contributed to the Castilianisation of the region, decided to support him and his projects. He visited Dominic in 1090 and, thereafter, Dominic, assisted by his disciple Juan de Ortega, began construction on a Church dedicated to Christ and the Virgin Mary. Outside, and attached to its walls, the Saint chose a place for his own burial. The Church was Consecrated by the Bishop of Calahorra in 1106.

Dominic died in 1109. His Church, later the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, was where he was buried, as he had requested and it was elevated to the rank of Cathedral after being placed in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Calahorra in the 1230s.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Many miracles are attributed to the intercession of St Dominic, among them the exorcism of a French knight who had been possessed by the devil and who was freed of his affliction by visiting the tomb of Dominic. Another miracle, concerns the healing of a German pilgrim named Bernard in the 15th Century, who was cured of an affliction of the eyes, by his prayers at Dominic’s tomb. Another concerns the healing of a blind Norman who was granted his eyesight by God, when he prayed fervently for Dominic’s intercession in the Cathedral.

The most famous miracle, however, concerns that of the rooster and the chicken, which occurred at Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In the 14th Century, a German 18-year-old named Hugonell, from Xanten, went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with his parents. A Spanish girl at the hostel where they were staying made sexual advances toward Hugonell. But he rejects her advances. Angry at this, the girl hid a silver cup in the German’s bag and then informs the authorities, that the youth had stolen it. Hugonell was sentenced to the gallows, in accordance with the laws of Alfonso X of Castile.

The parents sadly decided to examine their son’s body, still hanging on the gallows,but suddenly heard his voice telling them that Saint Dominic had saved his life! His parents quickly made their way to Santiago de Compostela to see the Magistrate. The Magistrate, who was eating dinner, remarked: “Your son is as alive as this rooster and chicken that I was feasting on before you interrupted me.” And at that moment, the two birds jump from the plate and begin to sing and crow happily.

The first element of the tale, that of a hanged pilgrim, is found in many collections of miracles, with the restoring of life after the death of the victim attributed not only St Dominic, but also to Saint James the Great, or to the Virgin Mary. The second part of the tale, the miracle of the dancing and singing roasted chicken and rooster, is unique to St Dominic de la Calzada.

In memory of Dominic’s miracle, a rooster and chicken, with white feathers, are kept alive at the Cathedral all year round. A different rooster and chicken are alternated each month, although they are called descendants of the original birds, who miraculously danced even though roasted. The pairs of roosters and chickens, when they are not at the Cathedral, are kept in a chicken coop called the Gallinero de Santo Domingo de la Calzada, which the Confraternity of St Dominic maintains with the help of donations. A wayside Shrine built in 1445, holds a relic associated with the miracle: a piece of wood from the gallows from which Hugonell was hanged and then restored to life. Medieval pilgrims gathered the feathers of these favoured birds, or received them from the Priest and would affix them to their hats. Another tradition claimed that if the birds ate breadcrumbs directly from the end of the pilgrim’s staff, that pilgrim would arrive safely in Compostela.

The German pilgrim Hermann Künig (15th century) claimed to have seen the room where the roasted birds began to sing and dance. Documents written by pilgrims, state that Hugonell’s shirt as well as the gallows, had been conserved by the Church of Santo Domingo. These artifacts are now lost

The rooster and chicken, are visible behind the bars of its ornate coop.
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Vaast of Arras (c 453-539 or 540)

Saint of the Day – 6 February – Saint Vaast of Arras (c 453-539 or 540) The First Bishop of Arras, France , Hermit, Ascetic, miracle-worker., Advisor to King Clovis. Born in c 453 at Limoges, France and died on 6 February in 539–540 at Arras, France of natural causes. Patronages – against eye diseases, of the Diocese of Arras, Boulogne and Saint-Omer, France, of children, of children who late learning to walk. Also known as – Foster, Gaston, Gastone, Vaat, Vedast, Vedasto, Vedastus. Additional Memorials – 2 January (discovery of relics), 7 February (enshrinement of relics), 15 July (translation of relics in Cambrai), 1 October (translation of relics).

The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Arras in Belgian Gaul, today in France, Saint Vedastus, Bishop, who, sent by Saint Remigius Bishop of Rheims to the devastated City, catechised King Clovis, re-established the Church and held it for about forty years and brought to an end, the need of work for evangelisation among the previously still pagan peoples of the region.”

Vaast was a native of the Limoges region, born in the second half of the 5th century. He left his parents as a young man and embarked on a secluded ascetic life as a Hermit, hidden from the world in the Diocese of Toul, France. It was there, near Toul, that he accidentally met King Clovis I who, after defeating the Germans, was returning to his country.

The traditional account of the conversion of King Clovis by St Vaast, says while on the road to Rheims, they encountered a blind beggar at the bridge over the river Aisne. The man besought Vaast’s assistance. Vaast, in this account had already been Ordained a Priest, was inspired to pray and blessed the beggar, at which point the man immediately recovered his sight. The miracle convinced the King to adopt his wife’s religion. Vaast became and remained an advisor to King Clovis. until the King’s death.

They continued their journey to Rheims, where Bishop St Remigius administered Baptism to the King. On his departure, Clovis recommended his instructor to the Bishop, who, knowing of the Hermit’s moral, devotional and theological qualities, first Ordained him as a Priest and then Consecrated him as the Bishop of Arras. (in the year 500).

The Consecration of St Vaast

This City of Arras was initially sacked by the Huns and the population, already Christian since the Fourth Century, had dispersed during the invasion. Arras was slowly repopulated but its inhabitants had practically returned to paganism. The new Bishop courageously embarked on his missionary work, reorganising his Diocese, converting numerous inhabitants in his many apostolic journeys in the vast territory entrusted to him.

He remained a friend of King Clovis and Queen Clotilde throughout his life and at the same time, he always remained a disciple, as it were, of St Remigius, who became his adviser, guide and trusted example.

After having ruled the Diocese for 40 years, he died on 6 February 539 or 540.
The news concerning the efficacious nature of prayer to Vaast and the many and diverse miracles and prodigies worked by God through his intercession, continued over the centuries. This resulted in three ‘Vitae,’ being written. One of the Vita’s by St Alcuin, recounts that on one occasion, having spent the day in instructing a nobleman, his host would see him on his way with a glass of wine to sustain him but found the cask empty. Vaast bid the servant to bring whatever he should find in the vessel. The servant then found the barrel overflowing with excellent wine, just like at Cana! The image below relates to another miracle for which I cannot find the legend.

St Vaast’s miracle of the beast

His body had many translations, due to the Norman invasion of the City of Arras in the Ninth Century. In December 880, the City was set on fire and its inhabitants massacred but the relics were rescued and hidden at Beauvais which was fortified.

In 667, St Aubert, the Seventh Bishop of Arras, began to build an Abbey for Benedictine Monks on the site of a little Chapel which Saint Vaast had erected in honour of Saint Peter. Vaast’s relics were transferred to the new Abbey, which was completed by Auburt’s uccessor and generously endowed by King Theuderic III, who together with his wife, was afterwards buried there. The relics, in the following centuries, remained in possession of the Abbey of St Vaast until the French Revolution, when the Abbey was sacked, however, the relics miraculously remained intact! They were later transferred to the Cathedral of Arras, where they still are today.

Cathedral of Arras

St Vaast’s cult, since ancient times, is widespread throughout France . It is reported in the litanies of the Saints and he is considered the Founder of the Episcopal See of Arras, for which he is the main Patron. In France he is more widely known as St Gastone.

St Vaast’s Statue at another Church in his honour at Wambrechies, France


Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 4 February – St Gilbert of Sempringham (c 1083-1189)

Saint of the Day – 4 February – St Gilbert of Sempringham (c 1083-1189) Priest, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, fouder of 13 Monasteries and Churches, schools, homes and hostels for the sick and orphanages, miracle-worker. Born in c. 1083 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire, England and died on 4 February 1189 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire. The Gilbertines came to an end in the 16th century at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

A narrow track from the main road in the Lincolnshire Village of Sempringham leads eventually to the tiny Church dedicated to St Andrew. Standing on a hilltop and noticeably isolated are the visible remains where St. Gilbert of Sempringham began his work, which resulted in the only English monastic Order for nuns, canons,lay brothers and sisters being founded. Little may be known about him but his influence, even after some 900 years, has not been forgotten.

Gilbert was the eldest son of Jocelyn, a Norman Knight and his low born Anglo-saxon wife. He was born around 1083 (in most biographies it is 1083), his mother had a vision that he would be special before his birth. It was a time within memory of the Norman invasion of England and he was half Norman half Saxon.

He is said to have been born with some form of disability and a variety of suggestions have been made as to the form that this was manifest – curvature of the spine being one. Whatever it was, he was unfit for military service and in his very early childhood seemed to have no enthusiasm of learning and is said to have been cared for by his mother and this is maybe why he had such an affinity and kindness for women – in an age when women were not generally allowed an education. At some point, however, his education led him to France . He returned having acquire the title of Master, by which he was known for posterity.

When he returned we see him educating the local children, of both sexes, which was unusual for the time in his district of Lincolnshire. His father was impressed with his education and abilities and his religious manner and presented him with the Churches of Sempringham and West Torrington. At that time, he was a Deacon and for a time, joined the household of the Bishop of Lincoln, firstly with Robert Bloet (died 1123) and with Alexander (1123-1148.

He was not Ordained to the Priesthood until his 40th year, due to his reservations of being unworth and for similar reasons, he refused the position of Archdeacon in the Diocese, which stretched from the Humber to the Thames and was the largest Diocese in Europe .

In 1131 he founded a home for girls whose residence was attached to his Church at Sempringham and hired a Priest named Geoffrey and they shared rooms above the Church entrance. In 1139 he moved his small community to a new site, a field’s distance from his Church and in due course, this became the Motherhouse for the Gilbertine Order of Sempringham. He was later to add lay sisters, Priests and lay brothers. In 1147, Gilbert travelled to France hoping to persuade the Cistercian Order to adopt his community of Nuns. This was refused but with the encouragement of Pope St Eugene III, who himself had been a Cistercian Monk and St Bernard of Clairvaux, he drew up the Institutes of the Gilbertine Order.

Back in England Gilbert became “Master” of the Order by the Popes decree. He was not attached to any particular house and was not the Prior of Sempringham. It was his responsibility to visit all the houses.

At the point when in old age he became blind he transferred, with the consent of the Order, his responsibility to Roger, the Prior of Malton. Gilbert did not take the vows of the Gilbertine Order until he was close to death. He felt that doing so would be a sign of arrogance, as he had written the Gilbertine Rule.

Miracles were attributed to him during his lifetime as well as after his death. When he reached his centennial year he felt compelled to “pass from this life in which he was so greatly broken for penance which he had endured in God’s service but yet all his members were whole,… save his sight.”

On Christmas night in 1188, whilst at his island house of Cadney, he was taken ill. He was given Extreme Unction and carried by his companion Roger and chaplain to Sempringham, a distance of forty miles. On 3 February of 1189, the Priors of all his Convents went to Sempringham to receive his blessing. On the last day, he lay unconscious with Roger (Prior of Malton), his successor, at his bedside. He died the following morning about the hour of Matins. He was buried three days later. His tomb was placed between the Altars of St Mary and St Andrew, on either side of the wall which divided the Priests from the Nuns, so that all alike might see him. During his lifetime Gilbert had built 13 Monasteries, nine for men and women together, four for men only. Besides these he had also built hostels for the poor, the sick, the lepers, the widows and the orphans

Eleven years after his death, Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury sent the Priors of the Lincolnshire Gilbertine houses of Swineshead, Bourn and Croxton to make inquisition to write an account of his life and his miracles. On 9 January 1201, King John and some of his nobles, visited Gilbert’s tomb. The Abbots arrived the same day and were satisfied as to the truth of the miracles . The King, Archbishop, Bishops and the three Priors sent letters to Pope Innocent III, asking for the Canonisation of Gilbert of Sempringham. The Pope decreed a three day’s fast on the whole Order and a further investigation into the life and miracles of Gilbert; the fast took place, on24 September 1202 with the inquisition on the third day.

Sempringham Abbey

Five canons and six men cured of infirmities by Gilbert, set out for Rome arriving on 31 December 1202 . The Pope gave the decree on 11 January and the feast of St Gilbert was commanded to be on h February, The Papal Bull was issued on 30 January 1202 and sent to the two Archbishops (Canterbury & York) and the Gilbertine Order.

The occasion of the translation of St Gilbert’s relics is detailed in depth “marked by the manifestations of bright lights, sweet odours and incorrupt clothing.” Additionally the Archbishop of Canterbury was privileged with a cure from illness which threatened to prevent him continuing with the lengthy ceremonies. The Archbishop issued an indulgence of 40 days and an additional one of 169 days from Bishops assisting at the translation, to all those visiting the Shrine or making grants to the priory.

In the centuries which have followed the life and death of St Gilbert of Sempringham, little is now visible of the Convents and Monasteries that he founded. The Priory Church of Malton in Yorkshire is still in use, Chicksands, however, has the most substantial remains of a cloister of the twenty five that were built in England .
In 1984 a group of parishioners met at the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St Bernard , Leicestershire. As a result, an apostolate was formed, “The Oblates of St. Gilbert,” who meet regularly to recite the Gilbertine liturgy and exercise charity for the needy.

Malton Priory
Posted in CHRIST the WORD and WISDOM, PATRONAGE - EYES, PRAYERS to the SAINTS, QUOTES on THE LIGHT of CHRIST, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 13 December – Light! Dear St Lucy and St Odilia

Quote/s of the Day – 13 December – The Memorial of St Lucy (c 283-304) Virgin Martyr “Bringer of Light” and St Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720) Virgin Both Patrons of those with eye ailments

I am the light of the world;
he who follows me will not walk in darkness
but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Saint Lucy’s name (Lucia in Italian) shares the root luc with the Latin word for light, lux. Because of this connection, Saint Lucy is often depicted in art and religious custom as a bringer of light – which also ties in to her Patronage of eyes and sight. Her feast day today, is during Advent when we await the Light of Christ and is in winter, for the Northern Hemisphere, so there is significant iconography of Lucy as a bringer of light in the darkness.

In your light God,
we see light.

Psalm 35:36

Let us pray to St Lucy, for the intercession for all those with eye illnesses and for the protection of the ‘eyes of our faith’ of all of us.

Let your light shine before men

Matthew 5:16

O St Lucy, you preferred to let your eyes be torn out
instead of denying the faith
and defiling your soul
and God, through an extraordinary miracle,
replaced them with another pair of sound and perfect eyes
to reward your virtue and faith,
appointing you as the protector against eye diseases.
I come to you for you to protect my eyesight
and to heal the illness in my eyes.

O St Lucy, preserve the light of my eyes
so that I may see the beauties of creation,
the glow of the sun,
the colour of the flowers
and the smile of children.

Preserve also the eyes of my soul,
the faith, through which I can know my God,
understand His teachings,
recognise His love for me
and never miss the road that leads me
to where you, St Lucy,
can be found in the company of the angels and saints.
St Lucy, protect my eyes and preserve my faith.

St Lucy, “Bringer of Light” Pray for those with eye ailments,
Pray for us all!

Light came into the world.”

John 3:19

St Odilia, born blind – at the age of 12, her bodily eyes were opened and she was equally enlightened by the “eyes of faith” when she was Baptised, Pray for those with eye ailments, Pray for us all that our faith may grow and strengthen as those around us grow more and more blind!

Then again He laid His hands
upon his eyes
and he looked intently
and was restored
and saw everything clearly.

Mark 8:25

Prayer for the Intercession of St Odilia

Merciful God,
I come to You to ask Your aid
that my life may always give You praise.
I ask through the intercession
of St Odilia and all your holy people
to be a beacon of Your Light to all I meet.
Give me holiness of soul and body
and bring me into Your divine Light.
May I obtain these favours,
as well as my special prayer,
St Odelia, pray for my eyes
and the eyes of my faith.
Through the merits of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
Your Son, our Lord,
Who lives with you and the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.
Amen.

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 13 December – Saint Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720)

Saint of the Day – 13 December – Saint Odilia of Alsace (c 660-720) Virgin Abbess, born blind, but was miraculously granted her sight, miracle-worker. Born of a noble family in c 660 at Oberheim in the Vosges Mountains, Germany and died on 13 December 720 at Niedermunster, Mount Sainte Odile, Germany of natural causes. Also known as – Odilia of Hohenbourg, Odilia of Hohenburg, Adilia, Odile, Odilia, Othilia, Ottilia. Patronages – against eye diseases and partial sightedness, ear diseases and ailments, of Alsace, France (proclaimed in 1807 by Pope Pius VII). Additional Memorial 7 July – translation of her relics.

The Roman Martyrology states: “In the territory of Strasbourg in ancient Burgundia in France, Saint Ottilia, Virgin and first Abbess of the Monastery of Hohenbourg founded by her father, Duke Adalríco.

A Mosaic Depiction of St Odilia in Mont Sainte-Odile, Alsace

Odilia, daughter of Duke Adalric of Alsace, (also known as Etichon, Alderic, Aldarico, Athich) a region of eastern France but which region, in the past centuries, belonged to France or Germany alternatively, several times – she was, therefore, born in Alsace in the seventh century, blind from birth and according to legend, her father entrusted her to a peasant family.

When Odilia was 12 years old, they took the child to the Monastery of Balma (Baume-les-Dames) to be educated. At the time when the Bishop, St Erhard of Regensburg who was led by an angel to the Monastery, Baptised Odilia. When he touched her with the Oil of Chrism, she received her sight. Her younger brother Hugo had her brought home again, for [purposes of arranging a marriage for Odilia. Aldaric was so enraged at Hugo’s presumption, that he accidentally killed his son. Odilia miraculously revived him and immediately fled the family home again.

She fled across the Rhine to a cave or cavern in one of two places (depending on the source – the Musbach valley near Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, or Arlesheim near Basel, Switzerland.) The cliff face opened up in order to rescue her from her plight. In the cave, she hid from her father. When he tried to follow her, he was injured by falling rocks and relinquished his search. This mountain has since then been called
Odilienberg.

But when Aldaric fell ill, Odile returned to nurse him. He finally capitulated, ceased resisting his headstrong daughter and founded the monastic community of Mont Ste. Odile (also known as Hohenburg Abbey) for her.

Some years later Odile was shown, in a vision, the site of Niedermünster at the foot of the mountain by St John the Baptist. There she founded a second Monastery, including a hospital. Here, the head and an arm of St Lazarus of Marseille were displayed but later transferred to Andlau. The buildings of the Niedermünster burned down in 1542 but the local well is still said to cure eye diseases.

Odilia died on 13 December 720 and the holy Abbess was buried in Hohenbourg in the Church of St John. This Church and Odilia’s Tomb were first mentioned by Pope Leo IX on 17 December 1050.

St Odilia in Avolsheim, Alsace

The relics have a history all of their own, the Emperor Charles IV received her right arm on 4 May 1353, which is now kept in Prague. Other relics which were in Odilienberg were saved from the French Revolution, although the marble covering the Sarcophagus was then lost. In 1842 the relics were placed in a chest under the Altar in Hohenbourg in the Church of St John and some are found in Alsace.

Odilia’s cult was widespread throughout the Middle Ages, in all Germanic Abbeys and in some French regions. She is still greatly venerated today in the Diocese of Alsace, Munich, Meissen, Strasbourg and in the Austrian fBenedictine Abbeys and by those all over the world suffering from eye ailments.

St Odilia has been the patron saint of Alsace since 1807, where she receives a great popular cult. Mont-Sainte-Odile is a very popular pilgrimage site, where her Feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the transfer of her relics, which took place on 7 July 1842.

Chapels in her honour are built on hills and mountains, she is invoked especially for the healing of eyes, ears or headaches, in fact she is represented in the guise of Abbess, with an open book on which two eyes rest.

Sometimes she is depicted while freeing the soul of her father Aldaric from Purgatory and sometimes she carries a Chalice in her hand, which refers to a miraculous episode in which Odilia, being seriously ill, died without having received the Viaticum. Thanks to the prayers of her sorrowful Sisters, she rose again and had the Chalice with the Consecrated Hosts brought to her bedside. After communicating she died again.

This statue is in Strasbourg

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 26 July – St Parasceva of Rome (Died c 180) Virgin Martyr. Patron of the Blind, against Blindness

Saint of the Day – 26 July – St Parasceva of Rome (Died c 180) Virgin Martyr, Confessor. Born near Rome in the 2nd Century and died by beheading in c 180. Patronage – invoked against blindness, healer of the blind.

Parasceva was born in a village near Rome, likely during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138). Her parents, Agathon and Politia, were Christians of Greek origin and had prayed for many years to have a child. When Politia finally bore a child, she was born on a Friday, the day of Our Lord’s suffering. They, therefore, named the baby girl Parasceva, meaning “Friday” in Greek (literally “preparation (day)” for the sabbath – cf. Mark 15:42). Parasceva grew up to be a devout and well-read woman, who rejected many suitors.

After the death of her parents, she gave away all of her possession and became the head of a Christian community of young virgins and widows. She also began to preach the Christian faith and at the age of 30, left Rome and ministered in many Towns and Villages.

In the Village of Therapia, Constantinople, she was arrested by soldiers of the Emperor Antoninus Pius and brought to trial. The charge was blasphemy and they charged her with inciting resistance to authorities. Antoninus Pius attempted to convince her to denounce her faith and even offered to marry her. Parasceva refused and was beaten and tortured by having a steel helmet lined with nails placed on her head and tightened with a vice. No pain seemed to affect her and her endurance caused many to convert to Christianity. Eventually, at his wit’s end, Antoninus Pius demanded that Parasceva be immersed into a large kettle of oil and tar. However, she emerged from even this unscathed. When she was accused of using magic, she responded by throwing the liquid into the Emperor’s face. He was blinded, and desperately asked for her help. Antoninus Pius regained his sight. This miracle moved him to convert to Christianity and set Parasceva free. Neither die he persecute Christians thereafter.

The Martyrdom of St Parasceva

However, after the death of Antoninus Pius, the laws changed once again under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A plague struck the Roman people and many, including Marcus Aurelius, considered Christians responsible for angering the gods. Parasceva was again arrested amongst many other Christians in a City governed by a man named Asclepius, who threw her into a pit with a large snake. She, however, made a Sign of the Cross and the snake fell asleep or dead. Just as with Antoninus Pius, Parasceva ‘s miracle converted Asclepius to Christianity and he released her. She continued to travel from Town to Town, preaching the Faith.

Finally, Parasceva was arrested for the last time by a Roman official named Tarasius and taken to the Temple of Apollo. Upon entering the Temple, Parasceva made a Sign of the Cross and all the idols in the Temple were instantly destroyed. Instead of converting the onlookers to Christianity, however, they became enraged, and beat her. Taracius then had her beheaded.

Her remains were eventually taken to Constantinople. Although it is not certain when or how her relics reached Constantinople, it seems that they were exhibited there in around 1200 to pilgrims.

Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 16 July – St Reinildis of Saintes ( c 630 – c 700)

Saint of the Day – 16 July – St Reinildis of Saintes ( c 630 – c 700) Virgin, Laywoman, Martyr, Pilgrim. Born in c 630 in Kontich, Belgium and died by being beheaded in c 700 outside a Chapel in Saintes (in modern Halle), Belgium. by the invading Huns. Also known as – Reinildis of Condacum, Reinildis of Kontich, Rainelde, Raineldis, Reinaldes, Reineldis, Reinhild. Patronage – against eye diseases, the Town of Saintes.

The Roman Martyrology states: “At Saintes, in France, this holy Martyrs Reinildis, Virgin and her companions. who were massacred by bbarbarians for the Christian Faith.”

Reinildis was the daughter of St Amalberga (10 July – here: https://anastpaul.com/2017/07/10/saint-of-the-day-10-july-st-amalberge-of-mauberg/) but her birthplace is under discussion, since it is not known whether it is Kontich, just outside Antwerp, or Condésur-Escaut in present-day northern France. although the former seems more likely. Tradition holds that when her parents and sister, St Gudula (8 January), embraced the religious life, Reinildis followed her father to the Abbey of Lobbes, hoping to be able to enter it, giving the Abbey most of her riches and possessions . However, she did not enter for unknown reasons and instead left on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she stayed for seven years (some sources claim only two) and returned with many relics.

On her return she lived in Saintes, near Hal, southwest of Brussels, devoting all her time to assisting the poor and the sick. of the area. She was killed in Saintes during a barbarian raid. With her at the time of her Martyrdom was the servant Gandolfo and a sub-Deacon called Grimoaldo, all three venerated as Martyrs.

A cult began immediately after her death and in 866, the Bishop, St John of Cambrai, exhumed the relics and buried them again in a solemn ceremony. The first Life of St Reinildis dates from this period.

A document from the twelfth century describes the transfer of her relics to Lobbes Abbey probably in 1170 and their authentication by the local Bishop. It seems that this document was a homily written by a Monk of Lobbes on the day of the anniversary of the translation, and it is more hagiographic than historical but, at least it is a reliable testimony, that the cult of Reinildis was widespread in the Saintes area and in the Abbey of Lobbes.

Saint Reinildis’ Patronage against eye diseases is due to the association with a well in Saintes known as “Sainte Renelde’s Well,” the water of which is believed to cure eye diseases.

Saint Reinildis is greatly venerated in Saintes as the Patron Saint of the Town. Some sources even indicate that Saintes owes its name to Reinildis” Martyrdom

The Parish Church of Saintes is, since the Middle Ages, dedicated to Sainte Reinildis and has preserved some of her relics.

St Reinildis’ Well
Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 May – Saint Catald of Taranto (Died c 685)

Saint of the Day – 10 May – Saint Catald of Taranto (Died c 685) Bishop, Monk, miracle-worker. Born in the 7th century Munster, Ireland and died in c. 85 in Taranto, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Catald of Tarentum, Catald of Rachau, Cataldus, Cathal, Cattaldo, Cathaluds, Cathaldus, Cataldo. Patronages – against blindness, against drought, against epilepsy, against hernias, against paralysis, against plague, against storms, blind people, drought relief, epileptics, paralyzed people, Massa Lubrense, Italy, Taranto, Italy.

Born in Munster, Ireland, Catald was a pupil, then the headmaster of the monastic school of Lismore in Waterford, after the death of its founder, St Carthage.

Upon his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he was shipwrecked at Taranto in southern Italy and ,chosen by the people as their Bishop and then Archbishop of the Diocese.

Some of the miracles claimed in Catald’s name include protecting the City against the plague and floods that, apparently, had occurred in neighbouring areas.

He is the titular of Taranto’s Cathedral and the principal Patron of the Diocese. This epitaph is given under an image of Saint Catald in Rome:

Statue of Saint Catald at Taranto

Me tulit Hiberne, Solyme traxere,
Tarentum Nunc tenet: huic ritus,
dogmata, jura dedi.

This has been loosely translated as:
Hibernia gave me birth,
thence wafted over,
I sought the sacred Solymean shore.
To thee Tarentum, holy rites I gave, Precepts divine
and thou to me a grave.
(Hibernia is the classical Latin name for Ireland).

It is odd that an Irishman, should be so honoured throughout Italy, Malta,and France but have almost no recognition in his homeland. His Irish origins were discovered only two or three centuries after his death, when his relics were recovered during the renovation of the Cathedral of Taranto. When his coffin was open at that time, a pastoral staff of Irish workmanship was found with the inscription Cathaldus Rachau. Further investigations identified him with Cathal, the teacher of Lismore.

Veneration to Catald spread, especially in southern Italy, after the 10 May 1017, translation of his relics when the Cathedral was being rebuilt, following its destruction at the hands of Saracens in 927. Four remarkable cures occurred as the relics were moved to the new Cathedral. There is a Town of San Cataldo in Sicily and another on the southeast coast of Italy .

Cathedral of St Catald in Taranto, Italy
Cathedral of St Catald in Taranto, Italy

Saint Catald is depicted in art as an early Christian Bishop with a mitre and pallium in a 12th century mosaic at Palermo (Roeder). He is the subject of a painting on the 8th pillar of the nave ,on the left in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem There are also 12th-century mosaics in Palermo and Monreale depicting the Saint.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

The Memorial of Saint Augustine ‘Servant of God’ – 28 August

Today, 28 August, we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Augustine, one of the great founders of Monasticism in the Western Church, Bishop, Theologian, Preacher, Writer and Doctor of the Church. None of these titles, though accurate, would please him, however, as much as the simple one he used to describe himself: ‘Servant of God.’ For, whatever we achieve in life, whatever gifts and talents we have been given, are of little value unless they lead us, as they did Augustine, to know, love and serve God ever more deeply.

The Triumph of Saint Augustine painted by Claudio Coello, circa 1664

“Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom. He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church’s most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace and the Church. He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality.

His Confessions, a book appreciated in every age, describes a notable portion of his life (until 400), his errors, his battles, his profound religious observations. Famous too is his work The City of God, a worthy memorial to his genius, a philosophy of history. Most edifying are his homilies, especially those on the psalms and on the Gospel of St John.

Augustine’s Episcopal life was filled with mighty battles against heretics, over all of whom he triumphed. His most illustrious victory was that over Pelagius, who denied the necessity of grace; from this encounter he earned the surname “Doctor of grace.”

As an emblem Christian art accords him a burning heart to symbolise the ardent love of God which permeates all his writings. He is the founder of canonical life in common, therefore, Augustinian Monks and the Hermits of St Augustine honour him as their spiritual father.” … Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

St Jerome wrote to Augustine in 418:
“You are known throughout the world;
Catholics honour and esteem you
as the one who has established anew the ancient Faith.”

If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ

Saint Augustine

An excerpt from his Sermon 47, De ovibus (On Sheep)

“This is our glory – the witness of our conscience.
There are men who rashly judge, who slander, whisper and murmur, who are eager to suspect what they do not see and eager to spread abroad things they have not even a suspicion of. Against men of this sort, what defence is there, save the witness of our own conscience?

My brothers, we do not seek, nor should we seek, our own glory even among those whose approval we desire. What we should seek is their salvation, so that if we walk as we should, they will not go astray in following us. They should imitate us if we are imitators of Christ and, if we are not, they should still imitate Him. He cares for His flock and He alone is to be found with those, who care for their flocks, because they are all in Him.

And so we seek no advantage for ourselves when we aim to please men. We want to take our joy in men—and we rejoice when they take pleasure in what is good, not because this exalts us but because it benefits them.

It is clear who is intended by the apostle Paul – If I wanted to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. And similarly when he says – Be pleasing to all men in all things, even as I in all things please all men. Yet his words are as clear as water, limpid, undisturbed, unclouded. And so you should, as sheep, feed on and drink of his message; do not trample on it or stir it up.

You have listened to our Lord Jesus Christ as He taught His apostles – Let your actions shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father who is in heaven, for it is the Father who made you thus. We are the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hands. If then you are good, praise is due to Him who made you so, it is no credit to you, for if you were left to yourself, you could only be wicked. Why then do you try to pervert the truth, in wishing to be praised when you do good and blaming God when you do evil? For though He said – Let your works shine before men, in the same Sermon on the Moun,t He also said: Do not parade your good deeds before men. So if you think there are contradictions in Saint Paul, you will find the same in the Gospels but if you refrain from troubling the waters of your heart, you will recognise here, the peace of the Scriptures and with it you will have peace.

And so, my brothers, our concern should be not only to live as we ought but also, to do so in the sight of men; not only to have a good conscience but also, so far as we can in our weakness, so far as we can govern our frailty, to do nothing which might lead our weak brother into thinking evil of us. Otherwise, as we feed on the good pasture and drink the pure water, we may trample on God’s meadow and weaker sheep will have to feed on trampled grass and drink from troubled waters.”

Posted in PATRONAGE - EYES, PATRONAGE - MUSICIANS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Hervé (c 521–c 556) Patron of the Blind and of Eye Diseases and Musicians

Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Hervé (c 521–c 556) Hermit, Abbot, Musician and singer, miracle-worker, blind from birth – also known as Erveo, Harvey, Herveus, Hervues, Hervé, Houarniaule, Huva – born in Guimiliau, Brittany, France or unknown location in Wales (sources vary) and died in c 556 to c 575 (sources vary) of natural causes. Patronages – the blind, bards, musician, invoked against eye problems and disease, invoked to cure sick horses.   St Hervé, along with Saint Ives, is one of the most venerated of the Breton Saints and was considered a Saint during his lifetime and ever since.st herve header

Hervé was the son of a bard (a professional singer and story-teller) at the Court of one of Clovis’ successors, King Childebert 1.   He would have been also the nephew of the Bourg-Blanc’s hermit Saint Urfold or, according to other sources, of Saint Rivoaré, the Patron Saint of Lanrivoaré.    His father died while Hervé was still an infant.449px-Locmélar_(29)_Église_Saint-Mélar_Retable_de_Saint-Hervé_03

His mother entrusted him to the care of his uncle, Urzel, a Monk, who had opened a school in Plouvein.   Saint Hervé, like his uncle, would have lived in poverty and humility all his life.   In time, Hervé was made superior of the school and small Monastery.   He later moved the Monastery to Lanhorneau.   St Hervé’s Hermitage itself, consisted of three elements – the ruins of a Chapel, a sacred fountain and a stone hut which would have been the cell of the saint, see below.

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Hervé died around 556 and was celebrated for his holiness, powerful preaching and love of music.   He is honoured as one of the Patron Saints of the blind.518px-st herve Guimiliau10

St Hervé is said to have had a special power over animals.   It is related that he had a domesticated wolf as a pet.   The dog guiding him having been devoured by a wolf, the hermit ordered the wild animal to take the role of his dog.   One day Hervé’s wolf attacked and killed the ox that the Monks relied on to pull the plough in the fields.   Hervé preached a powerful sermon and the wolf was so contrite it asked to be allowed to serve in place of the ox.   For this reason, Hervé is often depicted with a wolf wearing a yoke.st herve icon

He was joined by disciples and refused any Ordination or earthly honour, accepting only to be consecrated as an Exorcist.   He died in 556 and was buried at Lanhouarneau, Brittany, France.   Today there is a town in honour of him.st herve franceob_0e5068_saint-herve-et-son-loup-en-bretagne

Posted in AUGUSTINIANS OSA, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - EYES, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 28 August – St Augustine (354-430) – Doctor of Grace and one of the original Four Fathers & Doctors of the Latin Church

Saint of the Day – 28 August – St Augustine (354-430) born  Augustinus Aurelius (13 November 354 at Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa (Souk-Ahras, Algeria) – 28 August 430 at Hippo, North Africa) – Doctor of Grace and one of the original Four Fathers & Doctors of the Latin Church – Bishop, Theologian, Philosopher, Rhetoritician, Writer, Preacher, Teacher, Advisor, Reformer, Confessor, Apologist, Apostle of Charity.    Patronages – of theologians, brewers, printers, 7 diocese, 7 cities, against sore eyes, against vermin.   Attributes – Child; dove; pen; shell, pierced heart, holding book with a small church, bishop’s staff, mitre, flaming heart, an allusion to a passage in his Confessions.

Augustine was born in the year on 13 November in 354 AD in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman Africa.   His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian;  his father Patricius was a Pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed.   Scholars generally agree that Augustine and his family were Berbers, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa but that they were heavily Romanized, speaking only Latin at home as a matter of pride and dignity.   In his writings, Augustine leaves some information as to the consciousness of his African heritage.   For example, he refers to Apuleius as “the most notorious of us Africans,” to Ponticianus as “a country man of ours, insofar as being African”and to Faustus of Mileve as “an African Gentleman.”

Augustine’s family name, Aurelius, suggests that his father’s ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212. Augustine’s family had been Roman, from a legal standpoint, for at least a century when he was born.   It is assumed that his mother, Monica, was of Berber origin, on the basis of her name but as his family were an upper class of citizens known as honorable men, Augustine’s first language is likely to have been Latin.

Augustine Aurelius still unbaptised and burning for knowledge, he came under the influence of the Manicheans, which caused his mother intense sorrow. He left Africa for Rome, deceiving his mother, who was ever anxious to be near him.   She prayed and wept.   A bishop consoled her by observing that a son of so many tears would never be lost.   Yet the evil spirit drove him constantly deeper into moral degeneracy, capitalising on his leaning toward pride and stubbornness.   Grace was playing a waiting game;  there still was time and the greater the depths into which the evil spirit plunged its fledgling, the stronger would be the reaction.

Augustine recognised this vacuum;  he saw how the human heart is created with a great abyss;  the earthly satisfactions that can be thrown into it are no more than a handful of stones that hardly cover the bottom.   And in that moment grace was able to break through:  Restless is the heart until it rests in God.   The tears of his mother, the sanctity of Milan’s Bishop Ambrose, the book of St Anthony the hermit and the sacred Scriptures wrought his conversion, which was sealed by baptism on Easter night 387.   Augustine’s mother went to Milan with joy and witnessed her son’s baptism.   It was what it should have been, the greatest event of his life, his conversion — metanoia.   Grace had conquered.   Augustine accompanied his mother to Ostia, where she died.   She was eager to die, for now she had given birth to her son for the second time.

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St Augustine and St Ambrose

In 388 he returned to Tagaste, where he lived a common life of prayer and solitude with his friends.   In 391 he was ordained priest at Hippo, in 394 made coadjutor to bishop Valerius and then from 396 to 430 bishop of Hippo.

Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom.   He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church’s most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace and the Church.   He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality.   His Confessions, a book appreciated in every age, describes a notable portion of his life (until 400), his errors, his battles, his profound religious observations.   Famous too is his work The City of God, a worthy memorial to his genius, a philosophy of history.   Most edifying are his homilies, especially those on the psalms and on the Gospel of St. John.

Augustine’s episcopal life was filled with mighty battles against heretics, over all of whom he triumphed.   His most illustrious victory was that over Pelagius, who denied the necessity of grace;  from this encounter he earned the surname “Doctor of grace.”   As an emblem Christian art accords him a burning heart to symbolise the ardent love of God which permeates all his writings.   He is the founder of canonical life in common;  therefore Augustinian monks and the Hermits of St. Augustine honour him as their spiritual father.

As bishop, Augustine worked tirelessly for his people.   He fought false religious teachings, protected the people from corrupt officials and invaders and cared for the sick, the poor and those in prison.   His many sermons, letters and books reflect the ever-deepening love he felt for God.   He wisely observed:  “You have made us, O God, for yourself, and our hearts shall find no rest until they rest in you.”

He wrote and advised bishops, popes and councils.   His influence on the Church and his fight against heresy were exceptional.   He was loved by many, for he had struggled much and could help others who were struggling.

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386px-Sandro_Botticelli_-_St_Augustin_dans_son_cabinet_de_travail
Seghers, Gerard, 1591-1651; The Four Doctors of the Western Church: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

In 430 Vandals invaded the province.   For three months Augustine inspired Christian hope in his people.   According to Possidius, Augustine spent his final days in prayer and repentance, requesting that the penitential Psalms of David be hung on his walls so that he could read them.  vv He directed that the library of the church in Hippo and all the books therein should be carefully preserved.   He died on 28 August 430.   Shortly after his death, the Vandals lifted the siege of Hippo but they returned not long thereafter and burned the city.   They destroyed all of it but Augustine’s cathedral and library, which they left untouched.

St Bede’s True Martyrology, recounts that Augustine’s body was later translated or moved to Cagliari, Sardinia, by the Catholic bishops expelled from North Africa by Huneric.   Around 720, his remains were transported again by Peter, bishop of Pavia and uncle of the Lombard king Liutprand, to the church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, in order to save them from frequent coastal raids by Muslims.   In January 1327, Pope John XXII issued the papal bull Veneranda Santorum Patrum, in which he appointed the Augustinians guardians of the tomb of Augustine (called Arca), which was remade in 1362 and elaborately carved with bas-reliefs of scenes from Augustine’s life.

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St Augustine’s Relics in Hippo
tomb of st augustine
St Augustine’s Shrine at San Pietro
Posted in FRANCISCAN OFM, INCORRUPTIBLES, MORNING Prayers, PATRONAGE - EYES, PATRONAGE - TELEVISION

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

Saint of the Day – 11 August – St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) – Virgin, Religious, Founder, Mystic, Friend and Follower of St Francis, Miracle-Worker – (16 July 1194 at Assisi, Italy – 11 August 1253 of natural causes).   St Clare was Canonised on 26 September 1255 by Pope Alexander IV.   St Clare was born Chiara Offreduccio (sometimes spelled Clair, Claire, etc.) is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi.   She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.    Following her death, the Order she founded was renamed in her honour as the Order of Saint Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.   Patronages – embroiderers, needle workers, eyes, against eye disease, for good weather, gilders, gold workers, goldsmiths, laundry workers, television (proclaimed on 14 February 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.), television writers, Poor Clares, Assisi, Italy, Santa Clara Indian Pueblo.  st-clare-of-assisi-header-info 2jpg

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St Clare was born in Assisi, the eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana.   Traditional accounts say that Clare’s father was a wealthy representative of an ancient Roman family, who owned a large palace in Assisi and a castle on the slope of Mount Subasio. Ortolana belonged to the noble family of Fiumi and was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land.   Later in life, Ortolana entered Clare’s monastery, as did Clare’s sisters, Beatrix and Catarina (who took the name Agnes).

As a child, Clare was devoted to prayer.   Although there is no mention of this in any historical record, it is assumed that Clare was to be married in line with the family tradition.   However, at the age of 18 she heard Francis preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio at Assisi and asked him to help her to live after the manner of the Gospel.   On the evening of Palm Sunday, 20 March 1212, she left her father’s house and accompanied by her aunt Bianca and another companion proceeded to the chapel of the Porziuncula to meet Francis.  There, her hair was cut and she exchanged her rich gown for a plain robe and veil.

Francis placed Clare in the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia. Her father attempted to force her to return home.   She clung to the altar of the church and threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair.   She resisted any attempt, professing that she would have no other husband but Jesus Christ.   In order to provide the greater solitude Clare desired, a few days later Francis sent her to Sant’ Angelo in Panzo, another monastery of the Benedictine nuns on one of the flanks of Subasio.   Clare was soon joined by her sister Catarina, who took the name Agnes.   They remained with the Benedictines until a small dwelling was built for them next to the church of San Damiano, which Francis had repaired some years earlier.

Other women joined them and they were known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. They lived a simple life of poverty, austerity and seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares).

San Damiano became the centre of Clare’s new religious order, which was known in her lifetime as the “Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano.”   San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of this order, however, recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women’s religious houses organised by Hugolino (who later became Pope Gregory IX).   Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the order he founded because of the prestige of Clare’s monastery.   San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the order and Clare became its undisputed leader.   By 1263, just ten years after Clare’s death, the order had become known as the Order of Saint Clare.   In 1228, when Gregory IX offered Clare a dispensation from the vow of strict poverty, she replied:  “ I need to be absolved from my sins but not from the obligation of following Christ.”   Accordingly, the Pope granted them the Privilegium Pauperitatis — that nobody could oblige them to accept any possession.

Unlike the Franciscan friars, whose members moved around the country to preach, Saint Clare’s sisters lived in enclosure, since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at the time for women.   Their life consisted of manual labour and prayer. The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence.

For a short period, the order was directed by Francis himself.    Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano.   As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the order than when she was the prioress and required to follow the orders of a priest heading the community.   Clare defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict than Francis’ stricter vows.   Clare sought to imitate Francis’ virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled alter Franciscus, another Francis.   She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure and she took care of him during his final illness.

After Francis’s death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a rule on her order which weakened the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced.   She did this despite enduring a long period of poor health until her death.   Clare’s Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.

In 1224, the army of Frederick II came to plunder Assisi.   Clare went out to meet them with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands.   Suddenly a mysterious terror seized the enemies, who fled without harming anybody in the city.

Before breathing her last in 1253, Clare said:  “ Blessed be You, O God, for having created me.”

On 9 August 1253, the papal bull Solet annuere of Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare’s rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies.   Two days later, on 11 August Clare died at the age of 59.   Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed.   At her funeral, Pope Innocent IV insisted the friars perform the Office for the Virgin Saints as opposed to the Office for the Dead (Bartoli, 1993).   This move by Pope Innocent ensured that the Canonisation process for Clare would begin shortly after her funeral.   Pope Innocent was cautioned by multiple advisers against having the Office for the Virgin Saints performed at Clare’s funeral (Bartoli, 1993).   The most vocal of these advisers was Cardinal Raynaldus who would later become Pope Alexander IV, who in two years time would canonise Clare (Pattenden, 2008).   At Pope Innocent’s request the canonisation process for Clare began immediately.   While the whole process took two years, the examination of Clare’s miracles took just six days.   On 26 September 1255, Pope Alexander IV Canonised Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi.   Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3 of that year Clare’s remains were transferred to the newly completed basilica where they were buried beneath the high altar.   In further recognition of the saint, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263.

Some 600 years later in 1872, Saint Clare’s relics were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Clare, where her relics can still be venerated today.    Her body is incorrupt.

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St Clare’s Garment in the Centre with St Francis’ on each side

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st clare relics

In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx, in commemoration of the occasion when she warded away the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.

Pope Pius XII designated Clare as the Patron Saint of television in 1958 because when St Clare was too ill to attend the Holy Mass, she had been able to see and hear it, on the wall of her room.

There are traditions of bringing offerings of eggs to the Poor Clares for their intercessions for good weather, particularly for weddings.  This tradition remains popular in the Philippines, particularly at the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara in Quezon City.   According to the Filipino essayist Alejandro Roces, the practice arose because of Clare’s name. In Castilian clara refers to an interval of fair weather and in Spanish, it also refers to the white or albumen of the egg.