The Aug. 11 Feast of Saint Clare is an occasion for the people of Assisi to show their devotion to the beloved saint, with whom they feel a profound connection, said a local priest.
Catholics, especially in Assisi, often entrust children and the sick to St. Clare’s intercession, knowing that she is a “spiritual mother, who safeguards her children,” said Fr. Mario Macri, one of the brothers at the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi, Italy.
He told CNA that the faithful find a special intimacy with St. Clare, “because they see her as a mother.”
St. Clare is closely associated with St. Francis of Assisi, whom she followed, Fr. Macri observed, but universal devotion to the latter makes him lose a sense of intimacy.
“But people rediscover intimacy with St. Clare, on the other hand, he commented. “Clare – it’s me and you.”
Born to a noble family, St. Clare left behind all worldly possessions to follow St. Francis of Assisi. Taking up his lifestyle of austere poverty, she became the founder of the Poor Clares, a contemplative Franciscan order of nuns in the Church.
St. Clare is known for her simple spirituality, living only for God and removing from her life all material things that may distract from him.
“Clare is for God. She says how important God is for man. First, there is God, then all the rest,” stated Fr. Macri, stressing that “primacy of God over all things” was St. Clare’s main spiritual characteristic.
Fr. Macri is one of 40 religious brothers who live at the Basilica of St. Clare. They call themselves “sons of St. Clare” and try to live a continuation of her spirituality.
The priest explained that St. Clare is less well-known than St. Francis, “but she is just as big.”
“She is a big saint who followed St. Francis. She defined herself as ‘a little plant’ of St. Francis. And she became a big tree where so many go under her branches to take a little bit of freshness, that is, a bit of true spirituality,” he said.
The people of Assisi celebrates the Feast of St. Clare by visiting her tomb in the crypts at the basilica, where her body remains incorrupt - that is, her corpse has not decayed. Masses are celebrated throughout the morning, one of which is a Solemn Mass celebrated by a visiting cardinal.
“A cardinal usually comes to celebrate, to give meaning to this feast. And the cardinal always comes from Rome,” Fr. Macri stated.
This year, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the governorate of Vatican City State, traveled to Assisi in honor of St. Clare.
“St. Clare is important, she is associated with St. Francis, so they are two saints of the universal church. The Cardinals come voluntarily to be able to contribute to this feast,” Fr. Macri explained.
He said that St. Clare and St. Francis have added a “spiritual dimension” to the town of Assisi, making it a place “where the Spirit prevails,” and where “people search for a bit of the spirit.”
“They find it, thanks to the presence of St. Francis and St. Clare,” he added.