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Saint Clare of Assisi

Throughout the history of the Church there have been so many wonderful companions in holiness and saintliness.  Paul and Luke, Alexander and Athanasius, Hilary and Martin, Benedict and his sister Scholastica, Thomas Aquinas and his teacher Albert the Great, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal, and many more.  But one of the most wonderful of pairs in the history of the Church were Francis and Clare.

Sadly, these two incredibly holy and awesome Saints have been two of the most maligned and misunderstood saints in history.  So many try to turn these great saints into something they were not, but we do indeed have acurate and detailed accounts of who these saints were…


The Liturgical Year


Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.


August 12


Saint Clare




The same year in which St. Dominic, before making any project with regard to his sons, founded the first establishment of the Sisters of his Order, the companion destined for him by heaven received his mission from the Crucifix in the church of St. Damian, in these words: "Go, Francis, repair my house which is falling to ruin." The new patriarch inaugurated his work, as Dominic had done, by preparing a dwelling for his future daughters, whose sacrifice might obtain every grace for the great Order he was about to found. The house of the Poor Ladies occupied the thoughts of the seraph of Assisi, even before St. Mary of the Portiuncula, the cradle of the Friars Minor. Thus, for a second time this month, Eternal Wisdom shows us that the fruit of salvation, though it may seem to proceed from the word and from action, springs first from silent contemplation.


Clare was to Francis the help like unto himself, who begot to the Lord that multitude of heroic virgins and illustrious penitents soon reckoned by the Order in all lands, coming from the humblest condition and from the steps of the throne. In the new chivalry of Christ, Poverty, the chosen Lady of St. Francis, was to be the queen also of her whom God had given him as a rival and a daughter. Following to the utmost limits the Man-God humbled and stripped of all things for us, she nevertheless felt that she and her sisters were already queens in the kingdom of heaven (Regula Damianitarum, viii.): "In the little nest of poverty," she used lovingly to say, "what jewel could the bride esteem so much as conformity with a God possessing nothing, become a little One whom the poorest of mothers wrapt in humble swathing bands and laid in a narrow crib?" (Regula ii.; Vita S. Clarae, coaeva ii.) And she bravely defended against the highest authorities the privilege of absolute poverty, which the great Pope Innocent III feared to grant. Its definitive confirmation, obtained two days before the Saint's death, came as the long-desired reward of forty years of prayer and suffering for the Church of God.


This noble daughter of Assisi had justified the prophecy, whereby sixty years previously, her mother Hortulana had learnt that the child would enlighten the world; the choice of the name given her at her birth had been well inspired. (Clara Claris praeclara meritis, magnae in coelo claritate gloriae ac in terra splendore miraculorum sublimium, clare claret.—Bulla Canonizationis.) "Oh! how powerful was the virgin's light," said the sovereign Pontiff in the Bull of her Canonization; "how penetrating were her rays! She hid herself in the depth of the cloister, and her brightness transpiring filled the house of God."(Bulla Canonizationis.) From her poor solitude which she never quitted, the very name of Clare seemed to carry grace and light everywhere, and made far-off cities yield fruit to God and to her father, St. Francis.


Embracing the whole world where her virginal family was being multiplied, her motherly heart overflowed with affection for the daughters she had never seen. Let those who think that austerity embraced for God's sake dries up the soul, read these lines from her correspondence with Blessed Agnes of Bohemia. Agnes, daughter of Ottacar I, had rejected the offer of an imperial marriage to take the religious Habit, and was renewing at Prague the wonders of St. Damian's. "O my mother and my daughter," said our Saint, "if I have not written to you as often as my soul and yours would wish, be not surprised: as your mother's heart loved you, so do I cherish you; but messengers are scarce, and the roads full of danger. As an opportunity offers to-day, I am full of gladness, and I rejoice with you in the joy of the Holy Ghost. As the first Agnes united herself to the immaculate Lamb, so it is given to you, O fortunate one, to enjoy this union (the wonder of heaven) with him, the desire of whom ravishes every soul; whose goodness is all sweetness, whose vision is beatitude, who is the light of the eternal light, the mirror without spot! Look at yourself in this mirror, O queen! O bride! unceasingly by its reflection enhance your charms; without and within adorn yourself with virtues; clothe yourself as beseems the daughter and the spouse of the supreme King. O beloved, with your eyes on this mirror, what delight it will be given you to enjoy in the divine grace! . . . Remember, however, your poor Mother, and know that for my part your blessed memory is forever graven on my heart." (S. Clarae ad B Agnetem, Epist. iv.)


Not only did the Franciscan family benefit by a charity which extended to all the worthy interests of this world. Assisi, delivered from the lieutenants of the excommunicated Frederick II and from the Saracen horde in his pay, understood how a holy woman is a safeguard to her earthly city. But our Lord loved especially to make the princes of holy Church and the Vicar of Christ experience the humble power, the mysterious ascendency, wherewith he had endowed his chosen one. St. Francis himself, the first of all, had in one of those critical moments known to the Saints, sought from her direction and light for his seraphic soul. From the ancients of Israel, there came to this virgin not yet thirty years old, such messages as this:

"To his very dear Sister in Jesus Christ, to his mother the Lady Clare handmaid of Christ, Hugolin of Ostia, unworthy bishop and sinner. Ever since the hour when I had to deprive myself of your holy conversation, to snatch myself from that heavenly joy, such bitterness of heart causes my tears to flow, that, if I did not find at the feet of Jesus the consolation which his love never refuses, my mind would fail and my soul would melt away. Where is the glorious joy of that Easter spent in your company and that of the other handmaids of Christ? … I knew that I was a sinner; but at the remembrance of your supereminent virtue, my misery overpowers me, and I believe myself unworthy ever to enjoy again that conversation of the Saints, unless your tears and prayers obtain pardon for my sins. I put my soul, then, into your hands; to you I entrust my mind, that you may answer for me on the day of judgment. The Lord Pope will soon be going to Assisi; Oh! that I may accompany him, and see you once more! Salute my sister Agnes (i.e. St. Clare's own sister and first daughter in God); salute all your sisters in Christ." (Wadding ad an. 1221.)


The great Cardinal Hugolin, though more than eighty years of age, became soon after Gregory IX. During his fourteen years' pontificate, which was one of the most brilliant as well as most laborious of the thirteenth century, he was always soliciting Clare's interest in the perils of the Church, and the immense cares which threatened to crush his weakness. For, says the contemporaneous historian of our Saint: "He knew very well what love can do, and that virgins have free access to the sacred court: for what could the King of heaven refuse to those, to whom he has given himself?"(Vita S. Clarae coaeva iii.)


At length her exile, which had been prolonged twenty-seven years after the death of Francis, was about to close. Her daughters beheld wings of fire over her head and covering her shoulders, indicating that she, too, had reached seraphic perfection. On hearing that a loss which so concerned the whole Church was imminent, the Pope, Innocent IV, came from Perugia with the Cardinals of his suite. He imposed a last trial on the Saint's humility, by commanding her to bless, in his presence, the bread which had been presented for the blessing of the sovereign Pontiff; (Wadding ad an. 1253, though the fact is referred by others to the Pontificate of Gregory IX.) heaven approved the invitation of the Pontiff and the obedience of the Saint, for no sooner had the virgin blessed the loaves than each was found to be marked with a cross.


A prediction that Clare was not to die without receiving a visit from the Lord surrounded by his disciples was now fulfilled. The Vicar of Jesus Christ presided at the solemn funeral rites paid by Assisi to her who was its second glory before God and men. When they were beginning the usual chants for the dead, Innocent would have had them substitute the Office for holy Virgins; but on being advised that such a canonization, before the body was interred, would be considered premature, the Pontiff allowed them to continue the accustomed chants. The insertion, however, of the Virgin's name in the catalogue of the Saints was only deferred for two years.


The following lines are consecrated by the Church to her memory:

The noble virgin Clare was born at Assisi, in Umbria. Following the example of St. Francis, her fellow-citizen, she distributed all her goods in alms to the poor, and, fleeing from the noise of the world, she retired to a country church, where blessed Francis cut off her hair. Her relations attempted to bring her back to the world, but she bravely resisted all their endeavours; and then St. Francis took her to the church of St. Damian. Here our Lord gave her several companions, so that she founded a convent of consecrated virgins, and her reluctance being overcome by the earnest desire of her holy father, she undertook its government. For forty-two years she ruled her monastery with wonderful care and prudence, in the fear of God and the full observance of the Rule. Her own life was a lesson and an example to others, showing all how to live aright.


She subdued her body in order to grow strong in spirit. Her bed was the bare ground, or, at times, a few twigs, and for a pillow she used a piece of hard wood. Her dress consisted of a single tunic and a mantle of poor coarse stuff; and she often wore a rough hair-shirt next to her skin. So great was her abstinence, that for a long time she took absolutely no bodily nourishment for three days of the week, and on the remaining days restricted herself to so small a quantity of food, that the other religious wondered how she was able to live. Before her health gave way, it was her custom to keep two Lents in the year, fasting on bread and water. Moreover, she devoted herself to watching and prayer, and in these exercises especially she would spend whole days and nights. She suffered from frequent and long illnesses; but when she was unable to leave her bed in order to work, she would make her sisters raise and prop her up in a sitting position, so that she could work with her hands, and thus not be idle even in sickness. She had a very great love of poverty, never deviating from it on account of any necessity, and she firmly refused the possessions offered by Gregory IX for the support of the sisters.


The greatness of her sanctity was manifested by many different miracles. She restored the power of speech to one of the sisters of her monastery, to another the power of hearing. She healed one of a fever, one of dropsy, one of an ulcer, and many others of various maladies. She cured of insanity a brother of the Order of Friars Minor. Once when all the oil in the monastery was spent, Clare took a vessel and washed it, and it was found filled with oil by the loving kindness of God. She multiplied half a loaf so that it sufficed for fifty sisters. When the Saracens attacked the town of Assisi and attempted to break into Clare's monastery, she, though sick at the time, had herself carried to the gate, and also the vessel which contained the most Holy Eucharist, and there she prayed, saying: "O  Lord, deliver not unto beasts the souls of them that praise thee; but preserve thy handmaids whom Thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood." Whereupon a voice was heard, which said: "I will always preserve you." Some of the Saracens took to flight others who had already scaled the walls were struck blind and fell down headlong. At length, when the virgin Clare came to die, she was visited by a white-robed multitude of blessed virgins, amongst whom was one nobler and more resplendent than the rest. Having received the Holy Eucharist and a Plenary Indulgence from Innocent IV, she gave up her soul to God on the day before the Ides of August. After her death she became celebrated by numbers of miracles, and Alexander IV enrolled her among the holy virgins.


O Clare, the reflection of the Spouse which adorns the Church in this world no longer suffices thee; thou now beholdest the light with open face. The brightness of the Lord plays with delight in the pure crystal of thy soul, increasing the happiness of heaven, and giving joy this day to our valley of exile. Heavenly beacon, with thy gentle shining enlighten our darkness. May we, like thee, by purity of heart, by uprightness of thought, by simplicity of gaze, fix upon ourselves the divine ray, which flickers in a wavering soul, is dimmed by our waywardness, is interrupted or put out by a double life divided between God and the world.


Thy life, O Virgin, was never thus divided. The most high poverty, which was thy mistress and guide, preserved thy mind from that bewitching of vanity which takes off the bloom of all true goods for us mortals. Detachment from all passing things kept thine eye fixed upon eternal realities; it opened thy soul to that seraphic ardour wherein thou didst emulate thy father Francis. Like the Seraphim, whose gaze is ever fixed on God, thou hadst immense influence over the earth; and St. Damian's, during thy lifetime, was a source of strength to the world.


Deign to continue giving us thine aid. Multiply thy daughters; keep them faithful in following their Mother's example, so as to be a strong support to the Church. May the various branches of the Franciscan family be ever fostered by thy rays, and may all Religious Orders be enlightened by thy gentle brightness. Shine upon us all, O Clare, and show us the worth of this transitory life and of that which never ends.



Clara claris praeclara


The Bull of Pope Alexander IV


servant of the servants of God




Co-Foundress of the Poor Clares


Latin text taken from Ed. S. Brufani, Fontes Franciscani, & E. Menestò, S. Brufani et al., Assisi, Edizioni Porziuncola, 1995, pp. 2331-2337.


Agnani: Sept. 26. 1255 A.D.


[Alexander, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God,] To Our venerable brothers, the Archbishops and Bishops established throughout the Kingdom of France, [health and apostolic benediction]:


Clare outstandingly clear with clear merits,1 in Heaven with the clarity of great glory, and on Earth with the splendor of sublime miracles, is clearly clear. Here this Clare's strict and high Religion2 twinkles [coruscat], above the greatness of this one’s eternal reward radiates, this one’s virtue by magnificent signs, begins to shine [illucescit] upon mortals. To this Clare there was entitled here the Privilege of most high poverty;3 to this one there is repaid in the highest an inestimable abundance of treasures; to this one by Catholics a full devotion and a heap [cumulus] of honor is exhibited. This Clare did her shining [fulgida] works here mark out, this Clare the plenitude of Divine Light on high does clarify, this one to the Christian peoples do the stupendous (works) of her prodigies declare.



The Brilliance of St. Clare

§2. O Clare, endowed in a manifold manner with titles of clarity! Before thy conversion (thou were) indeed clear, in thy conversion clearer, in thy comportment in the cloister [in claustrali conversatione] outstandingly clear, and after having run down the space of thy present life thou has begun to shine as most clear! By this Clare a clear mirror of example goes forth to this generation [saeculo]; by this one the lily of virginity is offered among the heavenly amenities; by this one throughout the lands [in terris] are the manifest remedies of interventions [subventionum] sensed. O clarity of blessed Clare to be admired, which as much as it is sought more studiously through individual examples [per singula], so much more splendid is it found among individual examples [in singulis]! This one gleamed [emicuit], I say, in the world [saeculo], in Religion she outshone [praefulsit]; in her house she enlightened [illuxit] as a ray, in the cloister she flashed [pcoruscavit] as lightning. She gleamed in life, after death she irradiates; she was clear on Earth, in the sky she shines back [relucet]! O how great the vehemence of the light [lumen] of this one and how vehement the illumination of this clarity of hers! This light [lux], indeed, remained enclosed in secret cloisters, and outside it emitted sparkling [micantes] rays; it was gathered together in a strict convent [arcto coenobio], and it was sprinkled upon the entire age [in amplo saeculo]; it was guarded within, and it flowed forth outside. For indeed, Clare lay hidden, but her life lay open; Clare was silent, but her fame shouted out; she was concealed in her cell and she was known among cities. Nor (is it) wonderful; because a light [lucerna] so enkindled, so lightsome [lucens], could not be hidden away so as to not shine [spenderet] and give a clear light in the house of the Lord;4 nor could a vessel of so many aromatics be put back and not fragrance and resprinkle the Lord's mansion with a sweet odor. Nay, since in the narrow recluse of solitude this one harshly ground down the alabaster of her body, the whole court [aula] of the Church has been filled full in every manner with the odors of her sanctity.5


How St. Clare forsook the world

§3. In a healthy manner, when she, while she was still a girl in the world, studied to leap over this fragile and unclean world from a tender age by means of a clean, narrow path [calle], and guarding the precious treasure of her virginity by a sense of shame, always unspotted, vigilantly stretched unto works of clarity and piety, so much that there came forth from her a pleasing and praiseworthy report [fama] to her neighbors and others, blessed Francis, having heard the public commendation [praeconio] of her fame, undertook with complete haste [confestim] to exhort her, and to induce her to the perfect service of Christ. Who, thereupon adhering to his sacred warnings, and desiring to abdicate thoroughly [penitus] the world with all earthly things, and to serve as a family member [famulari] the Lord alone in voluntary poverty, she fulfilled this her fervent desire, as soon as she could: because at last she distributed and converted all her goods, as she counted out of reverence to Christ whatever else she had as one thing with herself, into alms and subsidies for the poor.6 And when fleeing the clatter of the world [de saeculi strepitu], she went down to a certain country [campestrem] church,7 and by blessed Francis himself, there received the sacred tonsure, she processed to another church), with her relatives growing soft [molientibus] to lead her back (home) from that place, she, immediately embracing the altar, and grasping her clothes, having uncovered the sheering [incisura] of the hair of her head, strongly and steadily resisted the same relatives in this. Then when she had been brought by the same blessed Francis to the church of San Damiano, outside the city of Assisi, where she was born [unde traxit originem], there the Lord for the love and assiduous cult of His Name gathered to her very many associates.



St. Clare founds the Order of St. Damiano

§4. From this, indeed, distinguished and sacred Order of San Damiano, spread far throughout the whole globe, one takes up a salutary exordium. She, by the exhorting of blessed Francis himself, gave a start, that must be followed, [sequendum initium] to this new and holy observance; she of this great Religion was the primary and stable foundation; she of this high work stood forth8 as its primitive stone. She of a noble family, but of a more noble comportment, conserved in an outstanding manner [praecipue] the virginity, which she had also previously guarded, under this rule of sanctimony. After a while her mother, Hortulana by name, intent on pious works, by following the footsteps of her own newborn [ipsius natae], devoutly undertook this Religion; in which at last this optimum little garden [hortulana], which brought forth such a plant in the Lord's garden, happily concluded her days. 


The Brilliance of St. Clare as Foundress 

§5. But after a few years, blessed Clare herself, having been overcome by the exceeding importunity of the same St. Francis, received the government of the monastery and the Sisters. She, indeed, was the tall and eminent tree,9 which, having spread out with long branches, brought into the field of the Church the sweet fruit of a Religion, and to whose delightful shade, under10 its amenity there would run together from all sides many nurslings of the faith, (who) were to offer fruit of this kind, and do they run! She was the clean vein of the Valley of Spoleto, which gave a new fount of living water11 as drink for the refection and convenience of souls; which, diverted now through diverse rivulets in the territory of the Church, infuses the young trees [plantaria] of Religion. She was the tall candelabra of sanctity vehemently shining red [rutilans] in the tabernacle of the Lord,12 to whose vast [ingentem] splendor very many women hastened and do hasten, enkindling their own lamps from that light [lumine].13 She as a result [profecto] planted and cultivated in the field of the Faith the vine of poverty, from which the fatty and rich fruits of salvation are gathered; she established in the praesidium of the Church a garden of humility, in which, having twined together those poor in a manifold of things, there is found a great abundance of virtues; She in the occupation [districtu] of Religion constructed [fabricavit] a citadel of strict14 abstinence, in which there is ministered a broad refection of spiritual nourishment.


The Brilliance of St. Clare's Virtues

§6. She was the princess [primiceris] of the poor, the duchess [ducissa] of the humble, the teacher of the continent, and the Abbess of the penitent. She governed her monastery, and the family entrusted to her in it, solicitly and prudently in the fear and service of the Lord and in the full observance of the Order: vigil in care, in ministry studious, in exhortation attentive; diligent in admonition, in correction moderate, temperate in precepts; in compassion outstanding, discrete in silence, in speech mature, and well considered in all the things opportune to a perfect government, willing more to serve as a family member [famulari] than to rule as a lord [dominari], and to honor than to be taken up in honor. Her life was an education [eruditio] and a doctrine to others. In this book of life15 all the other (sisters) learned the rule for living; in this mirror of life the rest (of women learn) to inspect the paths to life. For indeed she caused herself in body to stand on Earth, but in spirit she was turned unto the sky; a little vessel of humility, an armoire [armarium] of chastity, an ardor of charity, a sweetness of benignity, an oak-strength of patience, a knot of peace and a communion of familiarity: meek in work, supple in deed, and in all things lovable and accepted. And, with the flesh depressed, to convalesce in spirit — because anyone, with their enemy debilitated, is made the stronger — she kept [habebat] the floor bare and brushwood for a bed, and for a pillow under her head hard wood, and content with one tunic with a mantle of vile, despised and rough cloth. These humble garments did she use for the covering of her body, a sharp cilice woven from little cords of horse hair [de cordulis crinium equorum] sometimes employed next to the flesh. Strict too in food and in drink severe [districta], she curbed herself with so great an abstinence in these, that for a long time for three days a week, namely, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she tasted nearly nothing for her body, nevertheless on the rest of the days restricting herself to such an extent with a paucity of foods, that the other (sisters) use to wonder about her, in what manner she could subsist under so strong a withdrawal [districtione]. Over and above these, dedicated assiduously to vigils and prayers, she expended day and night-time chiefly in these. At last perplexed with daily languors, when she could not rise by herself to corporal exertion [exercitium], she was raised by the suffrage of her Sisters and, having placed supports at her back, she worked with her own hands,16 lest even in her infirmities she be idle [otiosa]. Whence from linen cloth of this her own study and labor, she caused very many corporals for the Sacrifice of the Altar to be made, and to be employed throughout the plains and mountains of Assisi in diverse churches.


St. Clare's love of holy Poverty

§7. But a chief lover and sedulous column of poverty; thus did she affix it in her soul, thus did she bind herself to it in her desires, that always more firmer in its love [dilectione] and more ardent in its embrace, from its severe and delightful bond she never stepped back for any necessity. Nor could she in a straightforward manner [prorsus] be induced by any persuasions to consent, that her monastery have its own possessions, even though Pope Gregory, our predecessor of happy memory, from much indulgence thinking piously of this very monastery, had freely willed to depute to it, for the sustenance of her Sisters, possessions sufficient and congruous.


The Miracles of St. Clare

§8. Truly, because a great and splendid window cannot be concealed [luminare supprimi], and not bring forth the rays of its clarity, even in her life did the virtue of her sanctity shine out in many and various miracles. For to a certain one of the Sisters of her monastery, she restored the voice, which she had for a long time almost entirely lost. To another, thoroughly destitute of the use [officio] of the tongue, she restored unencumbered [expeditam] speech. To another she opened a deaf ear to hearing. Having made the sign of the Cross upon them,17 she liberated one laboring under fever, one swelling with hydropsy, one plagued with a fistula and others oppressed by languors. A certain friar of the Order of Minors she healed from the suffering of insanity. Moreover when at a certain time [quadam vice] the olive oil in the monastery totally failed, she herself, having called the Friar who has been deputed to the same monastery for the gathering of alms, accepted a jug [urceum] and washed it, and placed it empty next to the doors [fores] of the monastery, so that the same Friar might bear it off for acquiring olive oil; who when he wanted to take it, found it filled with oil, by the benefice of a divine largess. Again, when one day not but one half of a loaf of bread was had in the monastery for the refection of the Sisters, she herself ordered the same half-loaf to be divided in vain and dispensed to the Sisters; which among the hands of the one breaking it, He who is the Living Bread and who gives food to those who are hungry,18 multiplied it unto so much, that there was made from it portions sufficient for fifty, and it was distributed for the Sisters reclining at table [discumbentibus].19 Through these and other conspicuous signs, He marked out, while she still lived, the pre-eminence of her merits. For even when she was in her last moments [in extremis ageret], the brilliant white company of blessed Virgins, ornamented with sparkling crowns, among whom one of them appeared more eminently and more shiningly, was seen to enter the house, where the same family of Christ use to recline at table, and even unto her small bed [lectulum] to proceed, and as if to exhibit about her the office of visiting and the solace of comforting, with a certain zeal for human kindness [humanitatis studio].


But after her passing, a certain man, who having fallen sick grew worse [morbo caduco ruebat] and on account of a contracted shin bone could not walk, was brought to her sepulchre: there, with the shin bone itself making a sound as if of breaking, he was cured of each infirmity. Those bent-over at the kidneys, contracted in members, quick to fall headlong into a rage and wild men, demented by fury, received in that place a complete cure [integram sospitatem]. A certain man’s own right hand — the very use of which he had thus lost out of a vehement percussion brought upon him — because he could do entirely nothing by means of it, just as if it were, in a word, useless, was reformed in a full manner to its pristine acting, by the merits of the Saint herself. Another, who by a long-termed [diutina] blindness has lost the light of his eyes, when he had approached the same sepulchre under the guiding [ducatu] of another, having recovered his sight in that place, returned from that place without a guide [duce]. In these and how very many other works and glorious miracles is this venerable Virgin resplendent, so that there evidently appears fulfilled that which her very own mother, while she was pregnant with her and was praying, is said to have heard: that she was going to bear a certain light [lumen], which would light up the globe in very many ways [orbem plurimum illustraret].


The Act of Canonization

§9. And so, let Mother Church rejoice, that She has born and educated such a daughter, who as a parent fecund with virtues, has produced many nurselings of (this) Religion as Her own examples, and has informed them to the perfect service of Christ by Her full magisterium. Let the devout crowd of the faithful also be glad, that the King of Heaven and (their) Lord, has introduced their sister and companion, whom He had chosen as His own spouse, to His palace, outstandingly excelling [praecelsus] and outstandingly clear with glory.20 For the marching armies [agmina] of the Saints rejoice also together, that in their supernal fatherland the nuptials of a new royal spouse are celebrated. All the rest, because it is fitting as, she whom the Lord has exalted in the sky, the Catholic Church venerate on Earth, that from the sanctity and miracles of her life, having been reviewed [praemisssis] by a diligent and attentive inquisition and a distinct examination and a solemn discussion, She plainly establish: even though otherwise, both in near and in remote parts, they would also be sufficient beforehand; her acts having been lucidly known: We from the common counsel and assent of our brother (Cardinals) and of all prelates, at that time present at the Apostolic See, having drawn confidence [confisi] from the Divine Omnipotence, by the authority of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and Our own, we direct that the same is to inscribed in the catalogue of holy Virgins.


The Feast of St. Clare

§10. And for that reason we warn and exhort all of you attentively through apostolic mandates written by Us, to this extent that on the second day before the Ides of August you celebrate devoutly and solemnly the feast of the same Virgin and cause it to be celebrated by your subjects in a venerable manner, so that you may merit to have her before God as your pious and sedulous adjutrix. And so that the multitude of the Christian people might flow to venerate her sepulchre in a more avid and copious manner, her festivity be also thoroughly honored with greater crowds [celebrius percolatur], to all [truly penitent and confessed], who come to it with reverence on the feast of the same Virgin, and/or who might even approach yearly during the octave days of her feast, having confided humbly in her suffrages, We do, by the mercy of the Omnipotent God and by the authority of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, loosen them one year and forty days [from the penances enjoined upon them].


[Given at Anagni, the sixth day before the Calends of October, in the first year of our pontificate.]


The English translation here has been released to the public domain by its author. The paragraph divisions and titles have been added by the translator for the convenience of the reader. Items in square [ ] brackets are either translations of those in the same in the Latin text, or the Latin words corresponding to the English words. Items in round ( ) brackets are terms implicit in the Latin syntax or which are required for clarity in English, added by the English translator. Footnotes have been added by the English translator.



1 Here the Latin praeclara signifies clear before all others, or in other words outstandingly clear, which translation will be followed throughout. Being outstandingly clear [praeclaritas] is a mark of the heavenly Jerusalem: cf. Ps. 47:2.


2 Religion, that is religious institute. This was the common term for a religious order in the 13th Century; cf. Writings of St. Francis.


3 The Privilege of most high poverty was the permission obtained from the Roman Pontiff for the sisters of S. Damiano to live without community property.


4 Here the editors cite Mt. 5:14-15.


5 Here the latin editors cite Mt. 26:7, Jn. 13:3.


6 Here the latin editors cite Lk. 12:33; 18:22.


7 St. Mary of the Angeles of the Portiuncula, which at that time lay among the fields below the city-state of Assisi.


8 There the text reads extitit [stood out], that is exstitit [stood out].


9 Here the editors cite Dan. 4:8.


10 Here the editors cite Cant. 2:3.


11 Here the editors cite Ester 10:6.


12 Here the editors cite Hebr. 9:2.


13 Here the editors cite Mt. 25:7.


14 Here the text reads strict [artae] instead of strict [arctae].


15 Here the editors cite Apoc. 21:27.


16 Here the editors refer to 1 Cor 4:12.


17 That is, her Sisters.


18 Here the editors cite Jn. 6:41 ;Ps. 145:7.


19 Here the editors cite Lk. 9:14-16.


20 Here the editors cite Cant. 1,3; Mat. 22,2.


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