Lent Madness: Clare vs. Gregory the Illuminator

Lent Madness continues with Clare of Assisi vs. Gregory the Illuminator. Will Francis’ star power rub off on Clare? Will anyone dare vote against someone with such a great nickname? These are the questions that will be decided over the next 24 hours.

In recent action, Perpetua defeated Charles Wesley 54% to 46% to advance. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket.

Clare (1194-1253) was born to a wealthy family in Assisi and as a teenager heard a moving sermon by Saint Francis. Much to the chagrin of her family she decided to take a vow of poverty and follow a Franciscan lifestyle. Her family brought her back by force but she slipped out again entered a nearby convent. In time she established her own order and two of her sisters, her widowed mother, and several close friends also joined.

These female Franciscans came to be known as Poor Clares and Francis himself named Clare the Superior. The Poor Clares devoted themselves to prayer and caring for the sick, needy, and marginalized. They also lived a life of extreme poverty — beyond what other female orders had ever experienced. They lived a life of complete poverty individually and collectively; they had no beds beyond piles of twigs, they engaged in hard labor, and begged for whatever food they ate.

Ten years after her death the order became known as the Order of Saint Clare.

Collect for Clare O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever  and ever. Amen.

Gregory the Illuminator (257-332), known as the Apostle to Armenia, had an unusual childhood. Armenia — set between the empires of Rome and Persia — was a buffer region of great intrigue as both empires sought control of it. While still an infant, his father assassinated the King of Persia. In the aftermath, his family fled to Ceasarea Cappadocia where he was brought up as a Christian. At the age of 23 he returned to Armenia where, through his preaching and example, he brought about the conversion of the king and many Armenians.

This was by no means an easy road. Upon his return to Armenia he was tortured and thrown in prison for 13 years for refusing to engage in pagan rituals. In 302 he was made Bishop of Armenia and in his later years he entered a small monastery and spent his days alone in the wilderness. Interestingly, Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion due, in large part, to Gregory’s ministry.

Collect for Gregory the Illuminator Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



3 Comments on “Lent Madness: Clare vs. Gregory the Illuminator”

  1. The Virtual Abbey says:

    Clare doesn’t need to rely on anyone else’s stinkin’ star powah. Christ, have mercy.

  2. Father Tim says:

    Okay, okay that does come across as a bit sexist. Just making sure the Virtual Abbess was awake and on her guard this morning.

  3. Bob Chapman says:

    Clare? She doesn’t even have the equivalent of a trading card: an icon.

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