On August 11, 1253 A.D., Clare of Assisi, abbess of the Community of Poor Ladies of San Damiano, breathed her last on earth. Born to the noble Offreduccio family (1193/4 A.D.), she was moved by the persuasive preaching of Francis of Assisi, renouncing her birthright and worldly riches to follow him in poverty and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus began the Second Order of Franciscans, this one for women, later known as the Poor Clares.
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For Christians all over the world, meditating on the crucifix takes on an even greater significance during the season of Lent, and particularly so as we approach the holiest days of our Church year. One crucifix which lends itself to reflection on a deeply spiritual level is the one known as the San Damiano Crucifix.
Soon we will celebrate Christmas, the day on which the fulfillment of the Incarnation of Jesus came to pass. By the Incarnation is meant that the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, while maintaining His divine nature, took on a human nature and human flesh in a sublime act of love, being born of the Virgin Mary. This profound mystery has been studied for centuries by the greatest theological minds, yet it also struck awe into the heart of one of the humblest of God’s creatures, Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226).
A well-researched biography of Saint Francis of Assisi must of necessity resound with the same two overriding themes: his deep, intense love for and devotion to his Savior, Jesus Christ; and his commitment to a radical living out of his Master’s example of poverty.
“A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will.”
--St. Francis de Sales
On the Franciscan calendar, August 2nd marks a very special Marian feast day, one which commemorates the remarkable connection between Our Lady of the Angels and Saint Francis of Assisi. The story behind this connection is well worth telling.
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