Can St. Clare’s Palm Sunday Event Mean Something for Young People Today

Paul Keggington

April 17, 2011

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity celebrated an 800th anniversary event in the life of St. Clare of Assisi with the UW Superior Newman community at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, WI. It was on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1211 when Clare left her paternal house to begin a new way of life under the direction of St. Francis and the first brothers.

What did this current day celebration include?

  1.  All reflected on selected scriptural texts on the theme of Gospel Discernment as part of a reflection day.
  2. Retreatants contemplated an article by Noel Muscat OFM who looked to Assisi historian Arnaldo Fortini, an authority in the study of the ancient mediaeval documents pertaining to the 13th century setting,  and the sources themselves to understand what actually occurred during the night of Palm Sunday 800 years ago.  (Follow this link to read the article yourself.) This reading notes that Clare received a palm from Bishop Guido according to the Middle ages liturgical rite used on the morning of Palm Sunday. It is thought that the ecclesial leader used the act of giving the green branch as a sign of approval for Clare’s desire to go forward in her resolve to follow St. Francis and consecrate her life to God.
  3. Ritualizing the significance of this gesture for today, Franciscan Sisters Mary Ann Spanjers and Julie Ann Sheahan presented a palm to the young people before the Saturday evening Palm Sunday liturgy. This action and a blessing crafted to fit each person hoped to offer support and affirm the Holy Spirit’s direction in their lives at the present time.

What does the receiving of the palm mean for you?

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