The Papal Decree of Canonization - 262 

The Papal Decree of Canonization


Perhaps no papal document of this period isas poetically elegant as the document proclaiming to the world the sainthood of Clare of Assisi. Its unknown author skillf ully plays in a poetic style with the word Clara in ways that no translation can adequately capture. In fact, nineteen different wordsare used to express the image of light, clara, thus stretching our imaginations in the attempt to capture the wonder of the newly proclaimed saint.

Clare was canonized on August 15, 1255, just two yearsafter her death, by Pope Alexander IV, a close friend of the Poor Ladies and, as Cardinal Rainaldo, their Protector. This papal proclamation of canonization, however, was promulgated sometime between September 26 and October 19 of the same year: a date that is difficult to determine due to the confusing manuscript tradition surrounding the document.

The decree relies heavily on the testimony presented in the Acts of the Process of Canonization, but it also reveals the influence of the anonymous Versified Legend which seems to be a reworking of the Acts into a more acceptable piece of hagiography in preparation for Clare's canonization. While it accentuates quite strongly the miraculous aspects of Clare's life, theobvious reference to the Exultet of the Easter Vigil, as in the papal proclamation of the canonization of Saint Francis, Miracirca Nos, twenty-seven years earlier, subtly underscores the author's understanding of Clare's role in the Paschal Mysteries.a




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 262