Sunday, October 17, 2010

St. Camilla Battista

I recently visited Italy while on pilgrimage, and met the Poor Clare Sisters of Camerino, Italy which is about 30 minutes from Assisi, Italy. I rejoice with them today for their foundress, St. Camilla Battista Varano was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square.
Saint Camilla Battista - her story from writings of Bret Thoman sfo, the Pilgrimage Tour manager of St.Francis Pilgrimages of Peachtree, Georgia and a good Franciscan brother to me.
Camilla was the name given to the girl born (illegitimately) on April 9, 1458 to Giulio Cesare of Varano, the powerful duke and lord of Camerino. Just the same, she was loved by the duke's wife who raised her together with her own children. As a child, she was vivacious and playful. She grew up immersed in the high culture typical of the splendid Renaissance court: she was exposed to poets, historians, philosophers, and painters; she learned Latin and read the classics; she learned how to dance, paint, and play musical instruments. Her future was destined to an arranged marriage to strengthen the family dynasty, but when Camilla was eight years old, her life took an unexpected turn.

A Franciscan friar preached a sermon during Lent exhorting his listeners to shed a little tear on Good Friday in memory of Christ's Passion. An enthusiastic little girl, Camilla vowed to shed a tear every Friday, a devotion she maintained for many years. By doing so, the Holy Spirit entered her soul and she began to perceive something in the Cross of Jesus much more valuable than the worldly pleasures and intrigues around her. She later discovered a booklet with a meditation on the Passion of Christ. She prayed and meditated, fasted frequently, mortified her body, confessed often, and met friars for spiritual direction.

The following is information about the Poor Clares in the U.S.A. (taken from a website of the Poor Clares in Ohio, USA

The Franciscan Family
Our origins date back to the 13th century, to the Franciscan movement initiated by St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi, Italy. This movement which, in the beginning, was simply to live faithfully the gospel of Jesus Christ in brotherhood and sisterhood, eventually became the three Franciscan Orders: the Friars Minor, the Poor Sisters (Poor Clares), and the Secular Franciscans.
Our Holy Mother St. Clare
St. Clare was a noble woman of the Italian town of Assisi at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries. Known from her youth as a devout girl, Clare was touched to the heart by the preaching of her contemporary St. Francis of Assisi. On the night after Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare left her family home and followed Francis in giving herself to living a poor, simple, Gospel life at the little church of San Damiano on the outskirts of Assisi. Although her family was initially furious with her decision, many young women followed Clare's example within a short time, including a number of members of her own family.

Our Community
The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration is one of the several branches of the Order of St. Clare. It was begun in France in 1854 by Marie Claire Bouillevaux in response to her call to contemplation and adoration of the Eucharist in a spirit of praise and thanksgiving.

This community, first known as the Franciscan Nuns of the Blessed Sacrament, adopted the contemplative way of life, and were given the privilege of solemn exposition of the Eucharist.

In 1921, the first American foundation was established in Cleveland, Ohio. Several other monasteries have since been established in this country and in India.

Devotion to Christ in the Eucharist is and always has been the central element in the Franciscan family. For the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, this devotion is expressed in a particular way through adoration of the exposed Eucharist. This is a special aspect of our effort to live out our call to offer praise and thanksgiving to God with and through Jesus on behalf of all people throughout the world.

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