The Acts of the Process of Canonization
(1253)

Introduction

Within two months of the death of Saint Clare, Pope Innocent IV is- sued the papal bull, Gloriosus Deus, October 18, 1253, in which he entrusted Bishop Bartholomew of Spoleto with the responsibility of promoting the Cause of her canonization. The Bishop of Spoleto, who had previous experience in these matters, took as his associates the archdeacon, Leonardo of Spoleto, Jacobo, the archpriest of Trevi, Brothers Leo and Angelo of the Lesser Brothers who were close friends of Saint Francis, Brother Mark, chaplain of the monastery, and a notary. On November 24, 1253, they went to the Monastery of San Damiano in Assisi and officially interviewed under oath thirteen of the sisters who had lived with Saint Clare. Two other sisters, one of whom was in the infirmary, were questioned on November 28, 1253, and, on the same day, Sister Benedetta, the Abbess of San Damiano, spoke in the name of the entire community and declared the willingness of all the sisters to testify concerning the sanctity of Saint Clare.

That same day, November 28, 1253, the Bishop and his official party proceeded to the Monastery Church of San Paolo in the center of Assisi to interrogate officially those citizens of the city who had known the saint or experienced her intercession. They examined an elderly knight, Ugolino di Pietro Giraldone, the Lady Bona Guelfuccio, Ranieri di Bernardo, and Pietro di Damiani, all of whom were associated with the family of Saint Clare and had known her intimately as a child. On the following day, the officials interviewed Ioanni di Ventura who testified to one of the miracles that had occurred after Saint Clare’s death.

The text of the Acts of the Process of Canonization, together with the papal bull, Gloriosus Deus, comes to us in an Umbrian Italian version of the fifteenth century. Nonetheless, a critical, internal study of the text, as well as a thorough examination of the parallels that exist between it and the later Legend of Saint Clare, leaves little doubt as to its authenticity. It was only in 1920 that Zefferino Lazzeri discovered and published the Acts. The text that follows provides invaluable, firsthand information concerning

the life and death of Saint Clare and is, therefore, an indispensable source of our knowledge of the saint.a When it is placed within the context of the procedures approving canonization for the women and men of the thirteenth century, it is an extraordinary document providing information and details that a medieval hagiographer might easily have ignored or considered inconsequential.b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8These desirable rewards belong to the holy memory of the blessed virgin Clare, former abbess of the Poor Ladies, enclosed nuns of San Damiano in Assisi. Heeding that saying of the prophet—9O daughter, listen, see, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; because the king has desired your beauty—10she turned her back on passing and fading things. Turning to things ahead and forgetting everything behind, she gave herself will- ingly and readily to listening to holy discourse. 11She did not lose time nor did she delay in fulfilling immediately what she delighted to hear, but instantly denied herself, her relatives, and all her belongings. Already a young girl of the heavenly kingdom, she chose and claimed as her spouse the poor Jesus Christ, the King of kings. 12Vowing herself totally to Him, with her mind and body in a spirit of humility, she promised Him principally these two good things, almost by way of a dowry, the gift of poverty and the vow of chaste virginity.

13So the modest virgin was united to the desired embraces of the virgin Spouse, and, from the bed of irreproachable virginity, a progeny came: chaste and marvelously fruitful to all, 14which, under the odor of her holy way of life and love of salutary profession, spread through almost every part of the world like a heavenly plant abundantly fruitful for God.

15This is that spouse who, while she seemed to be dead to the world, was so pleasing to God the Most High with her desires, deeds of virtue, and studies of the holy acts. 16From the moment that she died joyfully, even before she departed from this mortal life, the compassionate condescension of almighty God, rewarder of every good, in the abundance of His kindness which exceeds the merits and desires of those who pray for it, grants favors for the exaltation of His ever-glorious name to those who ask for them because the clear merits of the virgin Clare were interced- ing. 17God comes down to perform on earth many different miracles through her and her prayers.a

The Acts of the Process of Canonization of Clare of Assisi

[Prologue]

The following is the Process of Canonization of Saint Clare as Pope Innocent sent letters to the Bishop of Spoleto,a entrusting him with diligence and care to look into the life, conversion, manner of life, and miracles of Saint Clare, as the Bull written below contains.

1In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

2I, Bartholomew, Bishop of Spoleto, have received the following letter from the most holy father, Lord Pope Innocent IV:b

3Innocent, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, to our venerable brother, Bartholomew, Bishop of Spoleto, health and apostolic blessing.

4In His saints, the Glorious God Who alone does and performs marvelous and great things, acknowledges His faithful after the course and passing of their lives through the wonderful declaration, in many ways, with signs that He chooses for their supreme glory and as reward of their heavenly beatitude. 5[He does] this so that, hearing about the signs, wonders, and witnesses of so many marvelous things, only possible through the power of God, One in Trinity and Three in Unity, the goodness of the Most High may be seen 6and His great and wonderful name more reverently adored on earth, 7He Whose kingdom remains in eternity and Whose majesty is miraculously proclaimed on high.

18It is fitting and right that she be honored in the Church Mili- tant. For the divine mercy because of her gifts of grace and the worth of her miracles has demonstrated that she be venerated by the faithful. 19Therefore, we direct Your Brotherhood, through apostolic letters, diligently and carefully to research her life, con- version, and manner of life, as well as the truth of all the aforesaid miracles and all their particulars according to the questions we send you included under this Bull.a 20As for what you may find out about the aforesaid matters, be careful to send it to Us under your seal, written faithfully through a notary, 21so her soul, believed to be already rejoicing with happiness in heaven with the stole of immortality, may be followed in this world with fit- ting praise by the multitude of the just.

22Given at Saint John Lateran, the fifteenth calend of November in the eleventh year of our pontificate.b

23I, the aforesaid Bartholomew, going personally to the mon- astery of San Damiano, received, therefore, the testimonies about the life, conversion, manner of life, and miracles of the holy memory of the Lady Clare, former abbess of the monastery of San Damiano in Assisi. 24The names and details of those witnesses are written herein.

25The first witness present in the cloister of San Damiano on the twenty-fourth day of the month of November was Lady Pacifica, daughter of Guelfuccio of Assisi; 26the second, Lady Benvenuta, from Peroscia; 27the third, Lady Filippa, daughter of Sir Leonardo di Ghislerio; 28the fourth, Lady Amata, daughter of Sir Martino of Corozano; 29the fifth, Lady Cristiana, daughter of Sir Cristiano of Parisse;c 30the sixth, Lady Cristiana, daughter of Bernard of Suppo; 31the seventh, Lady Benvenuta, daughter of Oportulo of Alessandro; 32the eighth, Lady Francesca, daughter of Sir Capitaneo of Col de Mezzo; 33the ninth, Lady Beatrice, daughter of Sir Favarone of Assisi, the sister of holy Clare; 34the

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