Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Clare: Second Tuesday

Cross with a purple ribbon

“Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.”
—St. Clare to her sisters

In 1240, a group of Saracen mercenaries attacked the convent at San Damiano on their way to the city of Assisi. St. Clare, though sick and weak, confronted the men and held them off by raising the monstrance containing the Eucharist. Surprisingly, the Saracens immediately retreated. Clare had no reason to believe that the Eucharist would drive off the attackers, but she did know that turning to Christ in a time of need was the answer. What a perfect example of the power of trust in Christ!

Gaze | Consider | Contemplate | Imitate

Many Catholics have seen statues or pictures of Clare holding a monstrance. The image comes from the story of the Saracen invasion. However, it is clear that such a sacred vessel was not yet in use. The witnesses describe a pyx—a small wooden receptacle for a host that was encased in ivory—as the vessel she held aloft to confront the attackers. However, many statues or paintings show her holding a large monstrance.

Does the very existence of this image suggest a desire to preserve the memory of Clare—and medieval women like her—whose contemplation of the Eucharist conferred extraordinary status? Devotions like the feast of Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart, veneration of the reserved Eucharist, the identification through fasting with the Heavenly Banquet—these practices emerged in this historic period. Such an image—while not historically accurate—has another function.

It reminds us that women, who were forbidden to touch the Eucharist as did ordained men, nevertheless risked life and limb in their utter reverence for Christ’s presence in the Bread of Life. They hold the mystery in their hands by mystical identification, not by legal jurisdiction. Such artistic images preserve memories at once dynamic and dangerous. —from Light of Assisi: The Story of Saint Clare

lent with saint clare


St. Clare, your faith in Christ, present in the Eucharist,
provides us with a wonderful example of the power of belief.
May we hold on to that power in times of fear or struggle.


14 thoughts on “Lent with St. Clare: Second Tuesday”

  1. I am delighting in this today!
    Last night I went through a box in my grampas room, to look for an item or 2 my mom wondered if I still kept. Of course,she was on the phone with me at the time. I have looked through these boxes many times so I had some idea of which ones to search.
    However ,in a box I have looked through many times before , there was a St. Clare of Assisi card with “A Sister’s Prayer ” on the back side. It was in perfect condition,the only hallmark/address on it was from Detroit Michigan and a request if you wanted more cards send a self addressed stamped envelope to James N. Motschall. No date of printing. It was the 1st time I had ever seen the card, and was out of place with the other items. On the front of the card is St.Clare with the Monstrance before her image ,her name and dates of birth and death. WOW!!! Talk about timely!

    The card also reads : Foundress of the Poor Clares and Universal Patroness of Television….maybe we will learn more about why later….

      1. Thank You Jan!!! I’ve been signed up with Find a Grave since 2016, and I didn’t think to even check…I will go back later to add flowers to his page=)

        He truly was a man of great faith! I’m still not sure how the prayer card was in the box, I never saw it before and it is in perfect condition! I believe James may have sent it from heaven!

  2. Mary Ann Young

    Today I see a doctor about my problems with walking. Reading this has given me renewed hope in the Lord. I trust him for the outcome.

  3. Just a Shame that women were forbidden to handle the Holy Eucharist ???? Glad that St Claire disproved that superstition.
    Also Glad that she shows the path to holiness is an equal opportunity for all, not just a patriarchal prerogative that is still Perpetuated today. Don’t think ???? our good Lord Jesus would have such restrictions especially on his dear Mother or Mary Magdalena, who 1st witnessed His Resurrection.

    1. Yes! So true,especially because the Monstrance was not available at the time St. Clare only had the pyx…that made the event more miraculous!

  4. Unzhima victor patriciouz

    Look up to the eucharist regardless of genter, religion and or any deference. St. Claire’s virtue has eluded us, “CHRIST IS FOR US ALL ” may her example, vigilance, trust, enlight our purse of Christ in the contemporary world of atheistic believe. As Joseph, let’s click to monotheistic, Christ the redeemer, saviour and Lord.

  5. Even in desperation ST Clare seek the Lord. She used Him as a shield to defeat the enemy. Confirming the present of Christ – Blessed is He- in the Holy Eucharist.Yet she remain loyal / obident to the teaching and rules of the Catholic Church.
    King David did something similar . Yes.
    What more is needed for us to know that the Eucharist is the body of Christ.
    G-d Bless.

    1. Those who believe just need to pray for those who do not believe….even many Catholics still struggle with believing….why? I do not know….
      Peace to you RL

      1. Just a footnote;
        My mum spent many years as a eucharistic minister privileged not only to serve at mass but entrusted to bring communion to the sick and elderly in our parish.
        The beautiful but simple golden pyx was kept in a special keepsake box by her bedside.
        It comes as a complete surprise to me then that women were not allowed to touch the eucharistic.
        Courageous Clare!! Thanks be to God for all the Courageous women of faith.

  6. Annette Henneau

    Thank you for the additional insight on this event. When I was in Assisi, San Damiano was, of course, a highlight. Everything I saw was a thrill as it enlightened what I had previously read about. A local friar was our tour guide as we were ushered through the former convent rooms. Upstairs we were shown where she lay during her illness. At one end of the room was a door. The weary Franciscan merely gestured toward it as the spot from which St. Clare faced the advancing Saracens with the Holy Eucharist in her hands. That was insufficient for me, a once in a lifetime visitor. I asked to see out that door in order to see what Clare saw…minus the soldiers naturally. Reluctantly the friar grumbled his way to the knob and opened the door flooding the large dormitory with light. I quickly gazed out and down on the sloping approach up to San Damiano. I imagined the scenario of Clare repelling those men with the sight of our blessed Lord in the Eucharist. Just as quickly I had to thank the Italian whose head was shaking at American strangeness as he hurriedly closed the door to move on with the tour. I still smile with satisfaction when contemplating this incident.

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