Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Clare of Monte-Falco, Virgin

detail of a portrait of Saint Clare of Montefalco, 17th century, artist unknown; swiped off the Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Clare of Monte-Falco is so called from the name of her birthplace, to distinguish her from the other Saint Clare who was a native of Assisi. She was born in the thirteenth century and having been early instructed in piety by her parents, is an example of the fruits of a Christian education. She had hardly attained her fourth year, when she would pass whole hours on her knees before a crucifix. When only six years old, she desired to leave the world and join her sister Joan, who lived a very devout life in a convent. Even at that early period, her conduct was more to be admired than imitated. She wore a knotted rope around the waist, scourged herself to blood, and lived only on bread, water and undressed roots. Her rest at night was upon the bare ground or upon straw. She passed many hours of the night and the day in prayer, which she performed either standing, kneeling or lying prostrate on the ground. Her modesty of manner was almost without parallel; she cultivated this most assiduously, regarding it as the only means of preserving her chastity inviolate. How highly she esteemed virginal purity can be judged by her earnest assurances that she would rather suffer the torments of hell than commit the least sin against purity. She, therefore, always kept her eyes cast upon the ground when conversing with her nearest relatives, even with her own brother. When, one day, he asked her the reason of this, she replied: “In conversation, one needs the tongue, not the eyes.” She was always as ready to work as to pray, and the harder the labor she performed, the more it pleased her; for, all she aimed at was to crucify her body. After the death of her sister, she was chosen superior; and although she endeavored by tears and entreaties to evade the honor, she was obliged to submit. She then accepted her offer with great trust in God, and led those under her charge more by example than by words to the exact observance of the rule of Saint Augustine, which had been recommended to her sister by the Bishop of Spoleto. Although she herself was very strict in fasting, she exacted nothing from those under her direction, which was not in the rules. She evinced a motherly solicitude for them. If one of the sisters was sick, she hardly ever left her side, and endeavored to show her every possible kindness. Much that might be told of this gentle superior, of her love to God and man, especially to her enemies, of her patience and humility, of her zeal to promote the honor of the Almighty, and prevent every transgression against His law, we have to pass in silence. But of her great love for her crucified Saviour we must say a few words. The subject of her meditations was generally the sufferings and death of Christ, and she spoke of nothing more frequently, and scarcely ever without shedding tears. The sight of the image of her crucified Lord would put her in ecstacy. She would pass whole hours before it, and her mind was almost always occupied with the sufferings of our Saviour. “Can it be possible to think of anything else, when we have looked at Christ on the Cross?” said she one day. There was hardly a picture to be seen in the convent that did not represent the sufferings of Jesus. This was her wish, in order that she and all the others might be continually reminded of Him. She prayed to Him, one day, most fervently to let her feel some of the pains He suffered. Her request was granted. He appeared to her laden with the cross. The pains she endured at that moment, were so intense that she could not have lived another instant, if He, who had given them to her, had not turned death from her by a miracle. The Almighty caused a miracle to be wrought upon her in compensation for this extraordinary devotion to the sufferings and death of Christ. After her death, the instruments of the Passion, the cross, the three nails, the crown of thorns, were found deeply impressed on her heart. The Almighty who thus glorified his handmaid after her death, had favored her with many visions during her life. In one or them Christ announced her approaching death. Clare prepared for it most carefully. Christ again appeared to her and absolved her from all her sins and assured her of her eternal salvation; upon which she, in an ecstacy of joy, exclaimed: “O my Jesus! how great is the reward Thou deignest to give those who serve Thee.” Many blessed spirits accompanied our Saviour, to whom she said: “Take me away, take me away!” After this, she lay quiet, as if she were dead; out suddenly opening her eyes, she s&id: “Sister, I am going now to Christ, who calls me, I commend you and myself to Him.” With these words, she ended her angelic life on earth, and began a much happier one in Heaven. The holy body still remains incorrupt, and the miraculous heart is yet to be seen.

Practical Considerations

Saint Clare had, besides many virtues, an especial devotion to the bitter passion and death of Christ, and made them the subject of frequent meditation. You are not worthy to partake of the fruits of Christ’s passion, if you do not, with sincere devotion, often remember it and humbly thanking Him, strive with all the powers of your soul, to love Him who died for love of you. Repent of the coldness of your heart hitherto, and worship Him in future with fervent zeal. “If you desire to progress from one virtue to another, from one grace to another,” says Saint Bonaventure, “daily contemplate the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ” “Jesus Christ should be always in your heart, and the image of the crucified Saviour should never be out of your thoughts,” says Saint Bernard.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Clare of Monte-Falco, Virgin”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 April 2018. Web. 14 December 2018. <>