August 17 is the feast day of St. Clare of the Cross. Born into well-to-do family of Montefalco in 1268, Clare became an Augustine nun in 1290 and became Abbess the following year.
In 1294 during Epiphany she fell into a trance for several weeks. During this time she reported that she had seen a vision of Christ bearing a cross and offered to help him carry it. It caused her extreme pain, but she carried it faithfully until her death in 1308.
After her death, an autopsy was performed and a crucifix was found in her heart. They also found 3 gallstones, considered a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Canonization was initiated in 1328, but she was not beautified until 1737.
St. Clare of the Cross is important to me because August 17 is my birthday and my middle name is Clare. All my life I have spelled it Clair. A few years ago I looked carefully at my birth certificate and realized it was Clare.
I’m thankful that only Christ can carry his cross. Our ideas of helping Him may be prompted by good intentions, but don’t reflect an understanding of Christ’s work. I Peter 3:18. Christ suffered once for our sins. We do share in His suffering by remaining true to Him in the midst of persecution or ridicule, but the work of salvation is done by Christ alone.
This image is a photograph “St, Clare in Ecstasy” by the 17th century painter Francesco Longhi. It resides in the Church of Santa Chiara in the city of Montefalco in Italy.