A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

St. Clare and Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter, everyone!

I hope that everyone had a most wonderful Triduum! I was most fortunate to attend Holy Thursday Mass and Easter Sunday Mass with my Poor Clares, both which were absolutely beautiful. The homilies were especially moving, as they were said by Fr. Russell Murray, a wonderful Franciscan priest.

In past years, I attended the Triduum at Notre Dame. After Easter Sunday mass, everyone would gather in the dining hall in order relax (especially all of us in the Liturgical Choir) to feast on a wonderful meal. My favorite dining hall Easter fare of all was the delicious hot cross buns. Needless to say, it wasn’t until after I graduated from Notre Dame that I discovered that my favorite Easter treats were actually “invented” by my favorite Saint!

Apparently the Pope came to visit St. Clare and her sisters and asked her to bless some buns that she had baked. When she blessed them, crosses appeared on the buns! In addition, the blessed buns had supposedly carried sacramental healing power. Hence, each year the Poor Clares bake replicas of these little sacramental hot cross buns to hand out to those of us in the public chapel.

Below is the legend of St. Clare and the Hot Cross Buns, excerpted from The Little Flowers of St. Francis. I hope that you enjoy the story and get a chance to bake some hot cross buns of your own!



St Clare, a most devout servant of the Cross of Christ, and one of the sweetest flowers of St Francis, was so holy, that not only the Bishops and Cardinals but the Pope himself wished to see and hear her, and went often to visit her in person. One day, amongst others, the holy Father went to her convent to hear her speak of things celestial; and having long reasoned together, St Clare ordered the table to be laid and bread to be placed upon it, in order that the holy Father might bless it. Their spiritual conclave being at an end, St Clare, kneeling down with great reverence, begged him to bless the bread which had been placed on the table. To whom the holy Father answered: "Most faithful sister, I will that thou bless this bread by the sign of the cross to which thou hast devoted thyself." St Clare said: "Most holy Father, excuse me. I should indeed by worthy of reproof if I, a miserable woman, should presume to give such a blessing in the presence of the Vicar of Christ." Then the Pope answered: "In order that such an act be not looked upon as presumptuous, but that it may bear on it the marks of obedience, I command thee, in the name of holy obedience, to make on this bread the sign of the cross, and to bless it in the name of God." At this St Clare, like a true daughter of obedience, blessed the loaves most devoutly, making over them the sign of the holy cross; and, wonderful to relate, on all those loaves appeared a cross, most clearly marked; and some of them were eaten, but the rest were put aside, in order to testify of the miracle. And the holy Father, having seen the miracle, thanked God; and taking some of the bread, went away, leaving his blessing with Sister Clare. At that time Sister Ortolana, mother of St Clare, and Sister Agnes, her sister, were living together in the convent with St Clare, both most virtuous women, full of the Holy Spirit, likewise many other nuns; to whom St Francis sent a great number of sick persons, who were all healed by their prayers and by the sign of the most holy cross.


Blogger UltraCrepidarian said...

My dad always said these buns were the "raisin cakes of Egypt", related to "Astarta/Ashteroth", the false female fertility goddess worshipped by the pagans that surrounded the Israelites. This was part of the anti-catholic climate I grew up in. I am very happy to learn the actual origin.


9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Christian, but not Catholic (I disagree with some of their doctrinal points). However, whenever I read stories like St. Clare's, it makes me almost wish I were. St. Clare is such an inspiring woman of faith. I love how the Lord performed a miracle that was both ordinary and extraordinary. Only those who saw the loaves could have said whether they had crosses on them before they were blessed. At the same time, the healing power of the loaves testified to God's intervention. How subtle and sublime is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Our God can part the sea and remove every mountain from its place, yet He pays attention to such details as every loaf of bread.

8:58 PM  

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