The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Maria Dominica Clara Moes


Very similar to the life of Anna Catharine Emmerich in its vicissitudes and mission is that of the Dominican Sister Maria Dominica Clara Moes of the Holy Cross. It is also a standing miracle of God’s merciful love for His Church and a living protest against the spirit of unbelief. We have here to deal with a person whom God has overwhelmed with extraordinary graces, but whom He has also proved by the severest trials.

Clara Moes was born on 27 October 1832, at Bous, near the Moselle, in the grand duchy of Luxemburg. On the following day she received Baptism and with it the complete use of her reason, and many supernatural revelations. Very charming is her intercourse with the holy guardian angel, whom she saw almost constantly after that day. This heavenly messenger took care to instruct and educate her, and proved a very strict disciplinarian when she did not punctually comply with his teachings. There are probably few educators who insist so much on the renunciation of one’s own will as did the guardian angel of Clara. At his word she made a vow of virginity when only six years old. After this day she voluntarily practised severe penance. At her first Holy Communion, which she received a few months after her ninth year, it was clearly made known to her that she was called to found in her native country a convent of the Second Order of St Dominic, a work that would encounter the greatest difficulties. She did not then anticipate how these obstacles would rise like mountains in her path and what floods of bitterness would overwhelm her before she could accomplish the work which God had appointed her.

It was a long and thorny path until in 1861 she could at last begin community life with a few friends in a convent on the Limpetsberg in Luxemburg. Rarely has a convent been established in bitterer poverty and with more contradictions on the part of men. But greater trials were in store. The mystical gifts of Mother Clara had become publicly known and unfortunately rumor had it that a person was permitted to live in the convent against the will of the foundress, and was causing great disturbance by her pretended visions. This gave rise to malicious reports against Mother Glara and fixed upon her the reputation of a fanatical visionary. The ecclesiastical court took cognizance of the matter and a long drawn out investigation was carried on, causing the Servant of God the greatest annoyance. She was obliged to commit to writing all her spiritual experiences that they might be examined in detail. A verdict was finally reached in 1884, and it brought her a splendid justification. During the same year her convent was affiliated with the Order of Saint Dominic.

In trials and in gifts of grace the life of Mother Clara is extraordinary. Her struggles with the Evil One recall what Saint Athanasius relates of the holy anchorite Saint Anthony. She endured all the keen pain of jeer and contempt on the part of men and the bitterness of apparent abandonment on the part of God. And still her thirst for suffering was not satisfied. Her zeal for ignominy and humiliation reached the most heroic love of the cross. God bestowed upon her, therefore, the stigmata of His Son. Visions and ecstasies were frequent with her. Several times, like Saint Stanislaus Kostka, she was strengthened by Holy Communion at the hands of angels, and others of her Sisters witnessed the fact, seeing a host laid upon her tongue by invisible hands. She took pains, however, to conceal her extraordinary gifts of grace even from her own subjects.

What she thought of such things we may learn from her own words. Once she imposed a punishment upon a Sister because the latter had shown admiration for her on the occasion of an ecstasy.

“God demands solid virtue from us,” she wrote, “and will not have a Sister fix her heart upon a soul because it is visited by ecstasy. If these extraordinary graces are not viewed from the proper standpoint and do not lead to God and His love, they sanctify neither the soul that experienced them nor those who behold them. To see a person receive Holy Communion in an ecstasy does not justify one in priding oneself upon it. It is true and remains true that only genuine virtue makes a person holy. Any one who extols me on account of my ecstasies I think my enemy and my best friend is she who despises me. That men consider a person thus favored a saint, only confounds me. One single humiliation counts more before God than ecstasies and miracles, were these ever so numerous.” If it be true that genuine saints are afraid of visions while those who wish to appear saints desire them, then Mother Clara was of the genuine sort. She disliked anything extraordinary among her subjects and their training was as sober and sane as possible in harmony with the old and proved principles of sweeties. The Servant of God died on 24 February 1895. All who knew her were persuaded that a saint had passed from earth and the many prayers answered through her intercession prove that this persuasion is well founded.

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 March 2018. Web. 19 February 2019. <>