This beautiful statue of St. Clare adorns a wonderful courtyard of a Franciscan Adobe Church in New Mexico. The statue is life-size and decorates on corner of the garden courtyard in the front of the church. It is shares this courtyard with several benches and the graves of early founding priests of the church itself.
Obviously the church, being of the Franciscan tradition is catholic in denomination. Therefore it is reasonable to expect historic saints to be well represented. St Clare does not disappoint in this matter. Indeed, she is often seen as the female alternate to St. Francis of Assisi himself. In fact, St. Francis in 1212 converted her into the servitude of her faith.
This did not go without the notice and consternation of her father, a count in his own right. He had already had plans for her marriage and her conversion to the service of the church was not well received. After several family arguments it became very clear to the Count that she was not coming home.
Interestingly, it was a short time later that St. Clare’s sister, Agnes, also did not appreciate the Count delving in her affairs and she too ran away and joined the convent created by St. Clare. She would later become known as St. Agnes in her own right.
The main goal of St. Clare was to live a life of absolute evangelical poverty like St. Francis. As a nun, she did not have the same freedom of movement as St. Francis to travel, so she established an enclosed convent that became later known as the order of Franciscan nuns known as the Poor Clares. The object that the statue is holding is a ciborium. It’s a chalice-like vessel containing the Holy Sacrament.
This item is usually shown with depictions of the saint due to the prescribed miracles she has performed. In 1234 a large military force of Frederick II attacked the city and planned to sack the convent.
According to legend, St. Clare, though very ill, met the soldiers at a window where they had hoisted a ladder to gain entry. As the first soldier tried to come through the window, she raised the sacrament above her head and prayed for protection. Mysteriously, the soldiers became frightened and routed without causing any damage.
Later, a second force of the Frederick II ‘s army also attempted to attack the town of Assisi. St. Clare is known to have gathered all of her sisters at the convent and pray for the city’s deliverance. A large storm suddenly appeared and struck the military encampment with such force as to cause the troops immediate withdrawal from the area.
Her popularity for her pious actions and the two miracles associated even caused Pope Innocent IV to travel to visit her on her death-bed.
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“St. Clare of Assisi.” CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA:. Web. 2 Sept. 2014. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04004a.htm.
“St. Clare.” St. Clare- Saints and Angels- Catholic Online. Copyright 2014 Catholic Online. Web. 2 Sept. 2014. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=215.