Saint Clare of Assisi was born Chiara Offreduccio in 1194 to wealthy parents who owned a large palace and castle on the slopes of Monte Subasio near Assisi. She was set to follow her family’s tradition of marrying a nobleman, but shirked her families riches after hearing Saint Francis preach in Assisi when she was a teen.
After hearing Saint Francis preach, she asked him to help her live a life according to the Gospel. On the evening of Palm Sunday in 1212 at the age of 18, Clare left her parent’s house and travelled to the little chapel of Portiuncula to meet Saint Francis. There she had her hair cut and her gown exchanged for a plain robe and veil.
She was placed in a convent of Benedictine nuns and soon found herself in the monastery at San Damiano in Assisi. Other women came to join her, where they lived a life of poverty, austerity, and seclusion, called the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano.” Eventually the monastery became the center for the newly founded Franciscan Second Order of the Poor Clares.
When she was made abbess, she fiercely defended their way of life, rebuffing bishops and popes who wanted to impose watered down rules on them. The order remained steadfast: they stayed in poverty, went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat, and observed a near-vow of silence.
During her later years in life, she suffered from a long period of poor health before her death. Pious tradition holds that one Christmas Eve in Assisi, she was too sick to attend Mass and was overcome with emotion at not being able to be present for the celebration.
It’s said that amidst her tears of sorrow, the Holy Spirit projected an image of the Mass being celebrated on her room’s walls and she could hear the fervent songs that accompanied the sacred ceremony.
When television first came out, Pope Pius XII recalled the pious tradition of Saint Clare seeing the projection of Christmas Mass celebrated afar and thought of her as the proper patron for the new technology – which literally means “vision at a distance.”
“Those very remarkable technical inventions which are the boast of the men of our generation are the gifts of God, Our Creator, from Whom all good gifts proceed: ‘for He has not only brought forth creatures, but sustains and fosters them once created.'” – Pius XII
On Valentine’s day in 1957, Pius XII issued the apostolic letter entitled “Proclaiming Saint Clare the Heavenly Patron of Television,” which officially made Saint Clare the patroness of tv.
Her feast day is celebrated every year on August 11th. Saint Clare of Assisi, Patron of Television, pray for us!