Thursday, August 11, 2011









RADIO VATICANA REPORT: In the host diocese, Madrid, and in dioceses all across Spain today, the official final period of preparation for the upcoming World Youth Day got under way with Masses, catecheses and Eucharistic adoration among the many elements available to the faithful.

Here in Rome, the Major Penitentiary of Holy Church issued a decree of indulgence for those who will take part in World Youth Day events. A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who shall participate with devotion in any sacred function or pious exercise taking place in Madrid during the XXVI World Youth Day and in its solemn conclusion, on condition that they receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, being truly penitent and confessing their sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, wherever they might be during the aforementioned gathering, with contrite heart, pray to God the Holy Spirit, that He might incite young people to charity and infuse them with vigour for the proclamation of the Gospel with their lives.

The Latin Decree goes on to request that priests with the proper faculties offer themselves as confessors for any and all penitent faithful who might seek to avail themselves of the sacrament before and during the course of World Youth Day events, and propose to the faithful that they offer prayers for the success of the same. World Youth Day Madrid 2011 officially begins on Tuesday, August 16th, and concludes with Mass to be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday August 21st. SOURCE RADIO VATICANA


ASIA NEWS REPORT: The girl, 17, endured an attempted rape. She suffered 90% burns all over her body, but is still alive. Police are investigating. Catholic activist tells AsiaNews this is the result of a "caste-based" mentality.

Lucknow (AsiaNews) - In the village of Johri (Sitapur district, Uttar Pradesh), a 17 year-old Dalit girl was set on fire and burnt by five peers who had tried to rape her. The girl has burns on 90% of her body and is in very critical condition. The attack took place on August 2, but no-one has yet stopped the attackers.

The victim's father said that already some days before the accident, the five boys - Tillu, Billu, Ajay, Dharmendra and Tuiyan - had upset his daughter with insults and lewd comments, which the young girl ignored. On the morning of 2, when the girl was alone at home, the five raided the house and tried to rape her. When she resisted, they sprinkled kerosene all over her and set her on fire.

The Ramkopt police, which deals with the case said that the incident came to light when the young Dalit arrived at the hospital. The police registered the complaint of her father immediately, an investigation was opened. Yet despite this her five attackers are still free.

Interviewed by AsiaNews Arulraj Antony, a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said "two aspects" reveal the "vulnerability" of the victim: "She is a girl and a Dalit." The activist said that in Indian villages it is "not uncommon" to run into people who belong to the "so-called upper-caste" who consider Dalit girls an "object of desire," regardless of their rights. All this is part of a "caste-based mindset" that "today can no longer be accepted".

Hoping that justice is done soon, the Catholic activist states that it is important to "ensure the girl now has all the medical care she needs," to make sure "she testifies" to identify those responsible. "The culprits – he ends - must be brought to justice."


The teenager was in a coma and on life support when doctors performed emergency operations. Five days later the family was informed that their child would not live. At this point they called for a priest to baptize their daughter.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi was 13 years old when she collapsed with a brain hemorrhage in February of 2009. At the hospital, her parents called for a Catholic priest to baptize her before she died. As the holy water touched her forehead, Lucy's arm shot up in the air and within 24 hours she was taken off life support.

A child-actor, she had just finished filming a walk-on scene for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A few days later she was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital and diagnosed with Arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Usually something carried from birth, the person has a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that remain undetected until they burst.

The teenager was in a coma and on life support when doctors performed emergency operations. Five days later the family was informed that their child would not live. At this point they called for a priest.

Recently, the family went public with the story.

"Doctors were saying it was a miracle - people who have brain hemorrhages usually don't survive them," Lucy stated, according to the London Metro.

Her mother, Denise, added, "I think it was a miracle. I can't think of another explanation. It could be she was recovering anyway but the way it happened, even the nurses said it was a miracle."

The London Express tells the rest of Denise's story. "It was the day after her second operation when I turned to my husband Robert and said 'we have to get her baptised'.

"At that point I really thought she was going to die and I wanted to give her the best chance in the next life.

"So five days after Lucy was first taken into hospital we were by her bedside saying prayers watching her about to be baptised.

"Then, the moment the priest put holy water on Lucy's head, her arm suddenly moved up. At first I thought she might be having a fit, but within 24 hours she was taken off all the life support machines and tubes.

"It could be she was recovering anyway, but the way it happened, even the nurses said that it was a miracle.

"When I asked the doctors why she had come back to us they said they can't explain how it happened and to this day they don't know how or why she recovered."

Now 16, Lucy is a student at the Bishop Challenor School in the Shadwell area of London. Even though she received this incredible miracle, she still had to learn to walk and talk again, a part of her rehabilitation she doesn't remember now.

She still suffers from severe headaches from time to time, side-effects from medications and numbness on her right side, but she is continuing to rebuild her life.


Obituary: Brother Colin Wilfred | Brother Colin Wilfred,Anglican Society of St Francis, AIDs, HIV, Martin Pendergast

Brother Colin Wilfred
Brother Colin Wilfred of the Anglican Society of St Francis died at their friary in Canterbury on 2 August 2011. Brother Colin was in his early 70s and had been unwell for a time, although active in many ways. More recently he was Guardian of the friary next to the medieval Greyfriars.

He was well known to many Roman Catholics, not least for his pioneering work in showing how Christian communities could live positively with HIV/AIDS. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, both government and faith communities in London were faced with the reality of HIV, then an incurable and usually quickly fatal disease. There was growing statistical and anecdotal evidence that London was home to the largest concentration of people with or affected with HIV.

A number of individuals (both lay and ordained) from within the Christian communities were actively involved with providing different kinds of both practical and pastoral support to people with or affected by HIV. They were aware of the climate of fear, prejudice and ignorance which adversely affected people with or affected by HIV and interfered with a proper understanding of and response to the this illness.

Issues of sexuality, and theology made the response to HIV both one in which they believed the churches should take a lead, but also which caused confusion and sometimes judgement within their communities. They originally came together for mutual support and to discuss how these problems might be handled effectively in a number of ad hoc groups, such as the inter faith group of Terrence Higgins Trust, the Ministers' Group (an informal meeting of clergy and others involved with people with HIV and AIDS started in 1986), and London Christian Action on AIDS. These included Revd Andrew Henderson, Sr Eva Heymann SHCJ, Revd Malcolm Johnson, Fr Bill Kirkpatrick, Charles O’Byrne, Martin Pendergast, and the late Fr David Randall.

Over time, all of these groups ceased to meet, although there was a general consensus that there was a need to continue meeting, but a shortage of resources to plan and organise meetings.

The London Churches HIV/AIDS Unit, accountable to the London Churches Group of ecumenical church leaders, was established in September 1990, and in 1991 it presented a briefing paper detailing the view of its steering group and its Adviser, Bro Colin Wilfred, that the London Ecumenical AIDS Forum should be established, bringing together representatives of groups, hospital chaplains, those appointed by denominations to work on this issue, and others within the Christian and Jewish communities in order to offer support, to share information and to identify needs and avoid duplication, as well as attend to the spiritual aspects of HIV need.

One of the first World AIDS Day liturgies was held at St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral Southwark, when Colin’s flair as a liturgist combined with his commitment to people with HIV. With the then Canon John Hine, now Catholic auxiliary Bishop in Kent, Colin Wilfred co-presided at a joint Liturgy of the Word, followed by separate Anglican and Roman Catholic celebrations of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, probably the first of its kind in a UK Roman Catholic Cathedral.

He and I worked together on a number of further World AIDS Day liturgies to be held in Southwark Anglican Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and other London churches of various denominations.

In 1991 Colin Wilfred had moved to St Botolph’s Anglican Church Aldgate, to be the first full time Anglican counsellor for people affected by HIV. He had already been a member of the Ministers’ Group. Colin later moved to the Royal Foundation of St Katharine in 1993 where a small SSF community was formed.

Colin memorably devised the dignified Exodus Liturgy marking LGCM's formal eviction from St Botolph's Church in September 1988 at the orders of the Diocese of London and its Consistory Court. It was a rare assignment for anyone and he produced a reflectively creative and rousing finale for LGCM’s sojourn at that church, with a passionate evocation of the terrors of discrimination and stigmatisation, all set within the framework of the Hebraic-Christian story which brought out his skills as an imaginative, challenging liturgist alongside his passion for justice.

He continued to develop his liturgical expertise, co-compiling many of the editions of the Daily Office SSF. The original influenced Celebrating Common Prayer which influenced the Daily Office in Common Worship (CofE). Colin Wilfrid was later elected Minister Provincial of SSF in Australia and New Zealand.

Responding to news of his death, the archbishops of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia said: “This is indeed sad news for the church because Brother Colin served amongst us here when the friars were living in Auckland. During his time in Aotearoa New Zealand, Brother Colin conducted many retreats, gave many bible studies and talks and contributed widely from his considerable theological and spiritual resources.

"Brother Colin was instrumental in creating the Anglican Religious Life Advisory Group of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia for the Anglican Church of these islands.

"Although Brother Colin left for England some years ago he will be remembered with much aroha, for his passion for justice and peace as well as his intelligent and creative witness to contemporary Christian spirituality, not forgetting his wonderful wit.

"This record of service by a friar amongst us underscores again the incalculable value of Franciscan witness and Franciscan vocation for us and with us.

‘E te pononga o Te Atua, haere, haere, haere, moe mai i roto i te rangimarie o Te Karaiti. Well done thou good and faithful servant.’”

In 2009 he contributed to an ecumenical day on spirituality, sponsored by Carmel-in-the-City, at St Joseph’s Church, Bunhill Row, London.

His funeral will take place at St Peter’s Church, Canterbury, on the Feast of St Clare, 11 August, at 1pm.


Agenzia Fides report - "The echoes that come from within the Country, the various messages that come from the secretariats of the political parties and the turbulent events in recent days have raised fears of a disturbed election period instead of a calm electoral process". It is the alarm raised by the responsibles of eight religious denominations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a document that was signed in Kinshasa on August 9.
The message was read by Don Leonard Santedi, Secretary General of the Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) in the Inter-diocesan centre of Gombe in Kinshasa, CENCO’s main office.
In the document the religious leaders (among whom we find the Catholic Bishops) are committed to accompanying the electoral process until the end "so that the country does not suffer postponements and disorders before, during or after the elections".
The message recalls "the unfortunate, similar examples of some countries of Africa that are warning signs of which we must take account." For this reason the religious leaders admonish all parties to refrain from "playing with fire" fueling divisions and hatred, inviting instead for mutual respect and tolerance.
Voters are asked to evaluate candidates on the basis of programs and not on profits and gifts offered or promises made during the campaign "in order to buy consciences".
The Congolese presidential and legislative elections will be held on November 28. (L.M.)


Sydney Archdiocese REPORT-
11 Aug 2011

Sister Cecilia Rose Pham signing her vows.
Pictured with the Prioress General,
Mother Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P.

A young woman from the Archdiocese of Sydney and another from the Melbourne Archdiocese are the first Australians to profess vows as novitiates of Nashville, Tennessee's Community of the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia.

Sister Cecilia Rose Pham from Sydney and Sister Mary Helen Hill from Melbourne professed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and received their black veils from the Most Reverend David Choby, Bishop of Nashville, at a Mass held late last month at the city's beautiful Cathedral of the Incarnation.

News of this important event is particularly joyful with the Archdiocese of Sydney and parishes across Australia in the midst of celebrations for Vocations Awareness Week.

An initiative of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), Vocations Awareness Week is held each year on the first Sunday prior to the Feast Day of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

This year, the week began on Sunday, 7 August and will continue until Sunday, 14 August with special liturgical resources that consist of intercessions for the prayers of the faithful, homily notes and other materials to deepen and enrich the faithful and provide inspiration.

Sister Mary Helen Hill receiving the black
veil from Bishop David Choby,
Bishop of Nashville

"Vocations Awareness Week is not intended as a recruitment drive. God alone is the only one who calls us to the priesthood or to our vocation as a religious. But while it is God who does the calling, this call is analogous to planting a seed, so when we help others by putting them in t ouch with their vocations, we are watering those seeds," says Fr Michael de Stoop, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Delighted at the news from Nashville, Fr de Stoop says this is a reason to be especially joyful at this time. "Not only is the fact that two Australians have professed their vows at the Mother House in the US a reason for celebration, but recently the Community in the USA was joined b y a further three Australians who received the habit last month in a group of 24, and have now begun their discernment," he says.

In addition another four Australian women plan to enter the Community later this month on 17 August, which he believes is a true testament to the strong renewal of interest from both men and women in answering God's call to lead the consecrated life of a religious sister or priest.

Before professing their vows, Sr Cecilia Rose and Sr Helen Mary spent a year as postulants at the Community's Mother House in Nashville, followed by a second year as novitiates.

Sister Cecilia Rose Pham

In the Community, initial vows are taken by novitiates as they enter their third year. Attending Mass at the Cathedral they commit themselves to vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience for the next three years, and with the Bishop of Nashville presiding, symbolically swap their white veils for black.

Now over the next three years of their initial profession, the two young Australians will continue with their studies of theology and discernment, and in their final year will move into the wider world. This is when Sr Mary Helen and Sr Cecilia Rose will return to Australia for their final mission year, to serve and work at the Mission House in Sydney, which is the first permanent overseas mission to be established outside of the Mother House and other mission houses established across the United States.

Australia's awareness of the Nashville-based Community of Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia grew after three of the community's American-born sisters arrived in Sydney in September 2007 at the invitation of Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP. Bishop Anthony, who is now Bishop of Parramatta, was Coordinator of Sydney's WYD and enlisted the sisters' help in preparing for the historic and momentous event.

A teaching Order, the Sisters from the Community have wide experience from their involvement with young people and their energies, faith, humour and warmth became a distinct feature of Sydney's World Youth Day, and was followed by the establishment of a Mission House in Sydney, the first to be established anywhere outside the USA.
Established in the 1860s, the Sisters of the Dominicans of St Cecilia has a core community of 200, but is expanding fast and planning to establish more Mission Houses overseas, with one in Vancouver Canada set to open later this year.

Sister Mary Helen Hill

But for Sr Mary Rachel Capets, OP one of the original three Sisters who came to Sydney to help with World Youth Day and heads up the Mission House here in Sydney, what is even more exciting is the fact that after a long decline in the number of Catholic women choosing a religious life, there has been a turn around.

This can clearly be seen not only among Sr Mary Rachel's Community of Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia but among a wide number of different congregations and orders.

In Australia there has been an upsurge of interest from young women with a surge in numbers of those entering Communities such as the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia, the Missionaries of God's Love and the Fraternas of the Marian Community of Reconciliation.

Among the reasons given in this increased interest in religious life is the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. A beloved figure to Catholic and non Catholics alike, the canonisation in Rome in October last year was celebrated by Australians everywhere. Interest in a vocation with the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the Congregation she and Father Julian Tenison Woods founded in Penola, SA, has also increased as a result.

Third Year Noviates of the
Domincan Sisters of St Cecilia

While some women are discerning their vocations upon entering one these different religious charisms, other including several who have joined the Fraternas of the Marian Community are choosing vocations not as sisters but as consecrated lay women.

The local Mission House for the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia is also continuing to grow and now has 16 members, with interest continuing to grow, says Sr Mary Rachel and is convinced one of the reasons for the upsurge in vocations for a religious life can be put down to the success of events such as World Youth Day as well as SCENE (the Sydney Congress Embracing the New Evangelism) where Vocation Expos triggered wide interest, with many young people wanting to know more.

But it is not only women answering God's call. More and more men are also responding to God's call with an similar upsurge in the numbers of those now following a priestly vocation.

In May this year five young men were ordained as priests at St Mary's Cathedral by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. Last year, a further four priests were ordained by the Cardinal, with another two who had studied at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd at Homebush being ordained a month later in their native Uganda before returning to work as assistant parish priests here in Sydney.

Postulant and Noviate at Mother
House in Nashville, Tennesee

Numbers at Sydney's Seminary of the Good Shepherd, the Neocatechumenates' Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Pagewood, and the Holy Spirit Seminary in Parramatta now stand at 70 which is more than three times the number of seminarians studying for the priesthood a decade ago.

To find out more about vocations log on to the Archdiocese of Sydney's Vocation Centre


St. Clare of Assisi


Feast: August 11


Feast Day:August 11

July 16, 1194, Assisi, Italy

Died:August 11, 1253, Assisi, Italy
Canonized:September 26, 1255, Rome by Pope Alexander IV
Major Shrine:Basilica of Saint Clare, Assisi
Patron of:clairvoyance, eye disease, goldsmiths, laundry, embrodiers, gilders, good weather, needleworkers, telephones, telegraphs, television

The Lady Clare, "shining in name, more shining in life," was born in the town of Assisi about the year 1193. Her mother was to become Blessed Ortolana di Fiumi. Her father is said to have been Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso, though whether he came of that noble branch of the Scifi family is not certain. Concerning Clare's childhood we have no reliable information. She was eighteen years old when St. Francis, preaching the Lenten sermons at the church of St. George in Assisi, influenced her to change the whole course of her life. It is likely that a marriage not to her liking had been proposed; at any rate, she went secretly to see Friar Francis and asked him to help her to live "after the manner of the Holy Gospel." Talking with him strengthened her desire to leave all worldly things behind and live for Christ. On Palm Sunday of that year, 1212, she came to the cathedral of Assisi for the blessing of palms, but when the others went up to the altar-rails to receive their branch of green, a sudden shyness kept Clare back. The bishop saw it and came down from the altar and gave her a branch.

The following evening she slipped away from her home and hurried through the woods to the chapel of the Portiuncula, where Francis was then living with his small community. He and his brethren had been at prayers before the altar and met her at the door with lighted tapers in their hands. Before the Blessed Virgin's altar Clare laid off her fine cloak, Francis sheared her hair, and gave her his own penitential habit, a tunic of coarse cloth tied with a cord. Then, since as yet he had no nunnery, he took her at once for safety to the Benedictine convent of St. Paul, where she was affectionately welcomed.

When it was known at home what Clare had done, relatives and friends came to rescue her. She resisted valiantly when they tried to drag her away, clinging to the convent altar so firmly as to pull the cloths half off. Baring her shorn head, she declared that Christ had called her to His service, she would have no other spouse, and the more they continued their persecutions the more steadfast she would become. Francis had her removed to the nunnery of Sant' Angelo di Panzo, where her sister Agnes, a child of fourteen, joined her. This meant more difficulty for them both, but Agnes' constancy too was victorious, and in spite of her youth Francis gave her the habit. Later he placed them in a small and humble house, adjacent to his beloved church of St. Damian, on the outskirts of Assisi, and in 1215, when Clare was about twenty-two, he appointed her superior and gave her his rule to live by. She was soon joined by her mother and several other women, to the number of sixteen. They had all felt the strong appeal of poverty and sackcloth, and without regret gave up their titles and estates to become Clare's humble disciples. Within a few years similar convents were founded in the Italian cities of Perugia, Padua, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Bologna, Milan, Siena, and Pisa, and also in various parts of France and Germany. Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia, established a nunnery of this order in Prague, and took the habit herself.

The "Poor Clares," as they came to be known, practiced austerities which until then were unusual among women. They went barefoot, slept on the ground, observed a perpetual abstinence from meat, and spoke only when obliged to do so by necessity or charity. Clare herself considered this silence desirable as a means of avoiding the innumerable sins of the tongue, and for keeping the mind steadily fixed on God. Not content with the fasts and other mortifications required by the rule, she wore next her skin a rough shirt of hair, fasted on vigils and every day in Lent on bread and water, and on some days ate nothing. Francis or the bishop of Assisi sometimes had to command her to lie on a mattress and to take a little nourishment every day.

Discretion, came with years, and much later Clare wrote this sound advice to Agnes of Bohemia: "Since our bodies are not of brass and our strength is not the strength of stone, but instead we are weak and subject to corporal infirmities, I implore you vehemently in the Lord to refrain from the exceeding rigor of abstinence which I know you practice, so that living and hoping in the Lord you may offer Him a reasonable service and a sacrifice seasoned with the salt of prudence."

Francis, as we know, had forbidden his order ever to possess revenues or lands or other property, even when held in common. The brothers were to subsist on daily contributions from the people about them. Clare also followed this way of life. When she left home she had given what she had to the poor, retaining nothing for her own needs or those of the convent. Pope Gregory IX proposed to mitigate the requirement of absolute poverty and offered to settle a yearly income on the Poor Ladies of St. Damien. Clare, eloquent in her determination never to break her vows to Christ and Francis, got permission to continue as they had begun. "I need," she said, "to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from my obligation to follow Jesus Christ." In 1228, therefore, two years after Francis' death, the Pope granted the Assisi sisterhood a Privilegium paupertatis, or Privilege of Poverty, that they might not be constrained by anyone to accept possessions. "He who feeds the birds of the air and gives raiment and nourishment to the lilies of the field will not leave you in want of clothing or of food until He come Himself to minister to you for eternity." The convents in Perugia and Florence asked for and received this privilege; other convents thought it more prudent to moderate their poverty. Thus began the two observances which have ever since been perpetuated among the Poor Clares, as they later came to be called. The houses of the mitigated rule are called Urbanist, from the concession granted them in 1263 by Pope Urban IV. But as early as 1247 Pope Innocent IV had published a revised form of the rule, providing for the holding of community property. Clare, the very embodiment of the spirit and tradition of Francis, drew up another rule stating that the sisters should possess no property, whether as individuals or as a community. Two days before she died this was approved by Pope Innocent for the convent of St. Damian.

Clare governed the convent continuously from the day when Francis appointed her abbess until her death, a period of nearly forty years. Yet it was her desire always to be beneath all the rest, serving at table, tending the sick, washing and kissing the feet of the lay sisters when they returned footsore from begging. Her modesty and humility were such that after caring for the sick and praying for them, she often had other sisters give them further care, that their recovery might not be imputed to any prayers or merits of hers. Clare's hands were forever willing to do whatever there was of woman's work that could help Francis and his friars. "Dispose of me as you please," she would say. "I am yours, since I have given my will to God. It is no longer my own." She would be the first to rise, ring the bell in the choir, and light the candles; she would come away from prayer with radiant face.

The power and efficacy of her prayers are illustrated by a story told by Thomas of Celano, a contemporary. In 1244, Emperor Frederick II, then at war with the Pope, was ravaging the valley of Spoleto, which was part of the patrimony of the Holy See. He employed many Saracens in his army, and a troop of these infidels came in a body to plunder Assisi. St. Damien's church, standing outside the city walls, was one of the first objectives. While the marauders were scaling the convent walls, Clare, ill as she was, had herself carried out to the gate and there the Sacrament was set up in sight of the enemy. Prostrating herself before it, she prayed aloud: "Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee, good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect." Whereupon she heard a voice like the voice of a little child saying, "I will have them always in My care." She prayed again, for the city, and again the voice came, reassuring her. She then turned to the trembling nuns and said, "Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus." At this, a sudden terror seized their assailants and they fled in haste. Shortly afterward one of Frederick's generals laid siege to Assisi itself for many days. Clare told her nuns that they, who had received their bodily necessities from the city, now owed it all the assistance in their power. She bade them cover their heads with ashes and beseech Christ as suppliants for its deliverance. For a whole day and night they prayed with all their might- and with many tears, and then "God in his mercy so made issue with temptation that the besiegers melted away and their proud leader with them, for all he had sworn an oath to take the city."

Another story, which became very popular in later times, told how Clare and one of her nuns once left their cloister and went down to the Portiuncula to sup with Francis, and how a marvelous light radiated from the room where they sat together. However, no contemporary mentions this story, nor any other writer for at least one hundred and fifty years, whereas Thomas of Celano says that he often heard Francis warning his followers to avoid injudicious association with the sisters, and he states flatly that Clare never left the enclosure of St. Damian.

During her life and after her death there was disagreement at intervals between the Poor Clares and the Brothers Minor as to their correct relations. The nuns maintained that the friars were under obligation to serve their needs in things both spiritual and temporal. When in 1230 Pope Gregory IX forbade the friars to visit the convents of the nuns without special license, Clare feared the edict might lead to a complete severing of the ties established by Francis. She thereupon dismissed every man attached to her convent, those who served their material needs as well as those who served them spiritually; if she could not have the one, she would not have the other. The Pope wisely referred the matter to the minister general of the Brothers Minor to adjust. After long years of sickness borne with sublime patience, Clare's life neared its end in the summer of 1253. Pope Innocent IV came to Assisi to give her absolution, remarking, "Would to God I had so little need of it!" To her nuns she said, "Praise the Lord, beloved daughters, for on this most blessed day both Jesus Christ and his vicar have deigned to visit me." Prelates and cardinals gathered round, and many people were convinced that the dying woman was truly a saint. Her sister Agnes was with her, as well as three of the early companions of Francis-Leo, Angelo, and Juniper. They read aloud the Passion according to St. John, as they had read it at the death-bed of Francis twenty-seven years before. Someone exhorted Clare to patience and she replied, "Dear brother, ever since through His servant Francis I have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have never in my whole life found any pain or sickness that could trouble me." To herself she was heard to say, "Go forth without fear, Christian soul, for you have a good guide for your journey. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother."

Pope Innocent IV and his cardinals assisted at the funeral of the abbess. The Pope would have had her canonized immediately had not the cardinals present advised against it. His successor, Alexander IV, canonized her after two years, in 1255, at Anagni. Her body, which lay first in the church of St. George in Assisi, was translated to a stately church built to receive it in 1260. Nearly six hundred years later, in 1850, it was discovered, embalmed and intact, deep down beneath the high altar, and subsequently removed to a new shrine in the crypt, where, lying in a glass case, it may still be seen. In 1804 a change was made in the rule of the Poor Clares, originally a contemplative order, permitting these religious to take part in active work. Today there are houses of the order in North and South America, Palestine, Ireland, England, as well as on the Continent. The emblem of St. Clare is a monstrance, and in art she is frequently represented with a ciborium.

Saint Clare, Virgin, Foundress of the Poor Clares. Celebration of Feast Day is August 12th by the pre-1970 liturgical calendar and August 11th (the actual date of her death) by the present one.

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St. Philomena


Feast: August 11


Feast Day:August 11
Major Shrine:Church of Our Lady of Grace in Mugnano del Cardinale
Patron of:Children, youth, babies, infants, lost causes, sterility, virgins, Children of Mary, The Universal Living Rosary Association

On 25 May, 1802, during the quest for the graves of Roman martyrs in the Catacomb of Priscilla, a tomb was discovered and opened; as it contained a glass vessel it was assumed to be the grave of a martyr. The view, then erroneously entertained in Rome, that the presence of such vessels (supposed to have contained the martyr's blood) in a grave was a symbol of martyrdom, has been rejected in practice since the investigations of De Rossi (cf. Leclercq in "Dict. d.archéol. chrét. et de liturg.", s.v. Ampoules de sang). The remains found in the above-mentioned tomb were shown to be those of a young maiden, and, as the name Filumena was discovered on the earthenware slabs closing the grave, it was assumed that they were those of a virgin martyr named Philumena. On 8 June, 1805, the relics were translated to the church of Mungano, Diocese of Nola (near Naples), and enshrined under one of its altars. In 1827 Leo XII presented the church with the three earthenware tiles, with the inscription, which may be seen in the church even today. On the basis of alleged revelations to a nun in Naples, and of an entirely fanciful and indefensible explanation of the allegorical paintings, which were found on the slabs beside the inscription, a canon of the church in Mugnano, named Di Lucia, composed a purely fictitious and romantic account of the supposed martyrdom of St. Philomena, who is not mentioned in any of the ancient sources. In consequence of the wonderful favours received in answer to prayer before the relics of the saint at Mugnano, devotion to them spread rapidly, and, after instituting investigations into the question, Gregory XVI appointed a special feast to be held on 9 September, "in honorem s. Philumenae virginis et martyris" (cf. the lessons of this feast in the Roman Breviary). The earthenware plates were fixed in front of the grave as follows: LUMENA PAX TECUM FI. The plates were evidently inserted in the wrong order, and the inscription should doubtless read PAX TECUM FILUMENA. The letters are painted on the plates with red paint, and the inscription belongs to the primitive class of epigraphical memorials in the Catacomb of Priscilla, thus, dating from about the middle or second half of the second century. The disarrangement of the inscription proves that it must have been completed before the plates were put into position, although in the numerous other examples of this kind in the same catacomb the inscription was added only after the grave had been closed. Consequently, since the disarrangement of the plates can scarcely be explained as arising from an error, Marucchi seems justified in concluding that the inscription and plates originally belonged to an earlier grave, and were later employed (now in the wrong order) to close another. Apart from the letters, the plates contain three arrows, either as adecoration or a punctuation, a leaf as decoration, two anchors, and a palm as the well-known Christian symbols. Neither these signs nor the glass vessel discovered in the grave can be regarded as a proof of martyrdom.

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