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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Patron Saint of Television

Today is the feast day of the patron saint of television, who died on this day in 1253.

She is Chiara Offreduccio, daughter of a count and countess, co-founder (with St. Francis) of the Poor Clares, and first abbess of San Damiano -- St. Clare of Assisi.

We have prayed at her tomb in Assisi, located in the church named for her. Also in the Basilica di Santa Chiara is the beautiful and famous San Damiano cross that spoke to St. Francis, telling him: "Francis, Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."

Not far away -- nothing is far away in Assisi -- in the Church of San Ruffino we saw the font where Francis and his friend Clare were baptized. Later, they both abandoned worldly goods to embrace Lady Poverty, dismaying and angering their wealthy families. Their sincere and simple witness soon attracted followers to their mendicant orders, and still does.

So why is a 13th century nun who was cloistered for more than 40 years the patron saint of television, as designated by Pope Pius XII in 1958? It is recorded that when she was unable to join her sisters for midnight Mass at Christmas because of an illness, she was granted a vision of the liturgy on the wall of her room in a different building.

I'm pretty sure that St. Clare isn't as well known as St. Francis, even to Catholics. She should be. Perhaps today more than ever, television could use her prayers.

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